James Risen must testify in the trial of a CIA officer charged with leaking classified information. Former CIA operative turned whistleblower Jeffery Sterling has been charged with giving Risen confidential CIA documents.
James Risen, a reporter for the New York Times, has not wanted to testify in the case, appealing to his First Amendment rights as a journalist. CNN reports that a recent ruling from the United States of Appeals Fourth Circuit will require him to appear in court, however.
This decision takes back an earlier ruling made by the trial judge in Sterling’s case. The judge had decided to protect Risen from having to testify against his will.
The new ruling says reporter James Risen must testify, however. He is the only witness who can provide key evidence so it is said his testimony is necessary to prosecute Sterling.
One judge disagreed on the ruling. He argued that a decision like that may be violating freedom of the press and freedom of information in the United States, Raw Story reports.
The trial itself seeks to discover whether former CIA agent Jeffery Sterling leaked classified information to James Risen.
In 1998, Sterling was assigned to a top-secret program trying to slow down or end Iran’s plans to develop or buy nuclear weapons. Two years later he was pulled off the mission. Officials say he was not meeting performance goals.
Sterling resigned from the CIA in 2002. He filed a suit against the agency after, claiming that because he was African-American, he was discriminated against. The suit was soon dismissed.
Sterling was later charged under the Espionage Act for revealing national defense information to Risen, who used the information in his book published in 2006. Prosecutors say Sterling leaked the documents because he was unhappy about his dismissal.
The decision to subpoena reporter James Risen for testimony is getting more notice, especially by critics of Obama who say the president has a pattern of violating freedom of press rights.
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