Reporter Risen Argues Against Subpoena in Sterling Leak Case

09.15.11 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

A government “motion for clarification and reconsideration” of a court order that limited the obligation of reporter James Risen to testify at the upcoming trial of former CIA officer and accused leaker Jeffrey Sterling should be rejected, Risen’s attorneys argued (pdf) yesterday.

There is no need for “clarification” of the court’s July 29 order (pdf), they said, since it is perfectly clear.  Mr. Risen does not need to do more than to authenticate his authorship of a book he wrote, the court said, and to attest to its accuracy.

And there is no legitimate basis for “reconsideration,” they argued, since there has been no intervening change in the law and no evidence of judicial error.

“The Government says nothing… beyond a rehash of the Government’s prior arguments and offers nothing sufficient to alter the balancing of interests already performed by this Court,” Mr. Risen’s attorneys wrote.

Similar arguments against a subpoena were also offered yesterday by Mr. Sterling’s attorneys, who added:  “Every time the Government appeals to this Court to admit some new or additional subject matter of Mr. Risen’s proposed testimony, the Court should be reminded how little evidence the Government really has in this case.”

The prosecution has “a compelling interest in Mr. Risen’s eyewitness testimony” which is “critical to the case,” the government has argued (pdf).  (“Leak Prosecutors Press Again for Subpoena of Risen,” Secrecy News, September 6, 2011).

The latest edition of “The News Media & The Law,” the quarterly publication of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, includes several articles on the theme of “Journalists, Whistleblowers and National Security.”