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The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from New York Times reporter James Risen, who has been ordered by the government to reveal a confidential source he cited in his 2006 book State of War. He is facing jail time for refusing to name the source.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia told Risen that he had to reveal his source, which federal authorities believe may be Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent. According to TheWrap, the Supreme Court rejected Risen’s appeal against that decision, siding with the government. As usual, the Court did not explain its decision.
Journalists have said that Risen has the right to protect his source and the New York Times has decided to stand with Risen.
As for the Obama administration, its stance on the issue has been confusing. The Times reports that in the administration’s brief to the Court in the case, the White House said that “reporters have no privilege to refuse to provide direct evidence of criminal wrongdoing by confidential sources.” Yet, Attorney General Eric Holder hinted that he wouldn't ask the trial judge to jail Risen for contempt.
Risen, a Pulitzer prize winner, also clashed with the government in 2011, when his attorneys said the government had obtained phone and financial records to get evidence against Sterling. Sterling later faced charges related to leaking classified information and pleaded not guilty.