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Federal judge holds reporter in contempt in nuclear scientist case

[JURIST] US District Judge Rosemary Collyer [official profile] on Wednesday held Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus in contempt after he failed to reveal confidential sources from a story he reported about an investigation into nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee [advocacy website]. Lee is seeking the identities of Pincus' sources and the sources of four other reporters in a civil lawsuit against the US Departments of Energy and Justice for improperly revealing his personal information. Lee was at the center of an investigation into the revelation of top secret nuclear technology to China, and he eventually pleaded guilty to a single charge of mishandling computer files. In her opinion [PDF text], Judge Collyer wrote that reporters' privileges were clearly qualified under the Constitution. Collyer also ordered Pincus to contact his sources to request a release of their confidentiality in order to avoid a situation like the one in the case of Judith Miller [JURIST news archive], in which she served 85 days in prison before obtaining a release from her source. Earlier this month, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia [official website] refused to rehear [JURIST report] the case of the four other reporters who were challenging an earlier ruling holding them in contempt [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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