Reporters can be jailed, Appellate Court says

February 19, 2005  

Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine can be jailed for refusing to reveal their sources to a U.S. federal grand jury, according to the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C.

The reporters were among those approached with information about Valerie Plame as a CIA employee, and have refused to testify before an inquiry into the leak of national security information. Neither reporter actually wrote an article about Ms. Plame, whose identity was actually broken by Robert Novak in a July 14, 2003 column in the Chicago Sun-Times, but they have been the target of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald of Illinois.

The U.S. Intelligence Identities Act makes it illegal to reveal the identity of CIA officers. However, the three-judge panel's decision on Tuesday upheld a lower court's ruling last year that Ms. Miller and Mr. Cooper should answer confidential conversations with government sources. Citing secret evidence presented by Mr. Fitzgerald, the panel said this case differs from the classic uncovering of wrongdoing by reporters relying on unnamed sources.