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DC Circuit upholds contempt ruling against reporters in CIA name leak case

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website] has upheld a contempt ruling against two reporters who refused to disclose their sources to investigators looking into the leak of an undercover CIA agent's name to the press. The court concluded that no federal shield law exists for reporters seeking to protect sources' identities. Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper and New York Times reporter Judith Miller were both held in contempt [JURIST report] in October by DC District Judge Thomas Hogan. Both could face up to 18 months in prison if they do not reveal their sources. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald sought the reporters' testimony before a grand jury considering whether CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity was purposefully leaked to the media last year. In a unanimous ruling, the court wrote:

[W]e agree with the District Court that there is no First Amendment privilege protecting the evidence sought. We further conclude that if any such common law privilege exists, it is not absolute, and in this case has been overcome by the filings of the Special Counsel with the District Court.
Read the full opinion [text, PDF]. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has background on the dispute and reporter shield laws. AP has more.

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