US reporter jailed for silence

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

Veteran journalist Judith Miller will be jailed until she divulges the source in court, or until the grand jury’s mandate expires in October.

The case is trying to determine who in the Bush administration leaked the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the media, after it appeared in a column by Robert Novak published in 2003.

Ms Plame’s husband, former US ambassador to Iraq Joseph Wilson, said his wife’s name was uncovered as revenge for his questioning of White House intelligence on Saddam Hussein.

Ms Miller, who did some reporting but did not write a story, defended the right of journalists to keep their sources secret.

“If journalists cannot be trusted to guarantee confidentiality then journalists cannot function. There cannot be a free press,” Ms Miller told Judge Thomas Hogan.

A second journalist in the case, Time magazine’s Matthew Cooper, had mentioned the agent in an article that followed the Novak column.

He was spared a jail sentence after he revealed his source to the court.

“This morning in what can only be described as a stunning set of developments, that source agreed to give me a specific personal and unambiguous waiver to speak before the grand jury,” Mr Cooper said outside court.

“It is a sad time when two journalists who are simply doing their job and trying to keep confidences and report important stories face the prospect of going to prison.”

Meanwhile Mr Novak has refused to say if he has testified or been subpoenaed to appear before the court.

The case has sparked a debate about press freedom and many journalists have rallied behind the pair.

The New York Times editor has maintained support for Ms Miller, describing the verdict as “a chilling conclusion to an utterly confounding case.”

According to Washington’s National Press Club it was “a sad perversion of justice to send Judith Miller to jail for protecting a confidential source in a case where no crime has yet been alleged and no story was ever written by Ms Miller.”

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