Marriage is love.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Freedom of the Press?

Courtesy of Marla Stevens:

Politics - Group in D.C. to support jailed N.Y. Times reporter -

The Inter-American Press Association, a group that seeks to protect reporters from abuse in this hemisphere, has taken up the cause of Judith Miller's incarceration as unjust. They're meeting with her later today.

The article mentions that the OAS' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is also speaking out against her jailing. What it doesn't state is that the IAPA raised the issue with them and got them involved.

I sent thank-you notes to both groups on behalf of the project.

-- Marla

File Attached: SIP/IAPA press releases concerning Ms. Miller 12/2004-8/2005

From recent IAPA press releases
July 22, 2005

United States, Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela attract special attention by IAPA officers during quarterly review of press freedom in the hemisphere
Highlight positive laws and legislation on access to public information and elimination of insult in Guatemala, Honduras and Panama.

Miami (July 22, 2005).- The top officials of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) decided during a meeting held today in this city to send missions to investigate restrictions to press freedom in the United States on the issue of confidentiality of sources and to Mexico on violence against journalists and the media, and demanded freedom for 24 journalists in Cuba.

The IAPA’s Executive Committee and the organization’s president, Alejandro Miró Quesada, reiterated their concern over the situation that has arisen in the United States on the journalist’s right to protect sources and the ordering by judges to reveal sources of information, in a case that involves the White House. A grand jury investigated a leak to the press on the identity of an undercover CIA agent, which is considered a federal crime. Reporter Judith Miller, from The New York Times, refused to testify on the origin of her source and consequently was sent to prison on July 6. Another journalist, Matthew Cooper, from Time Magazine, avoided going to jail since his confidential source, a White House official, relieved him of his obligation to protect his identity. Nonetheless, Cooper could be subpoenaed once again by the prosecutor on the case and face the possibility of being arrested. The IAPA decided to send in the coming days a mission to the Detention Center in Arlington, Virginia, to show its solidarity with Miller and to visit Congress to discuss with Senators a federal bill on the professional secrecy of journalists.

April 13, 2005: IAPA alert over serious risks to press freedom in the United States

Forum on confidentiality of sources of journalists in Washington concludes that the country is experiencing one of its worse moments for freedom of expression in the last 35 years.

Washington, D.C. (April 13, 2005) – A forum of the Inter American Press Association was held last night in the nation’s capital concluded that journalism in the United States is currently experiencing its worse moment in the last 35 years as a consequence of some 30 cases in which courts have compelled journalists to reveal their sources or risk going to jail.

The conference organized by the IAPA in collaboration with the American University Washington College of Law attracted hundred guests. The major theme of the forum titled “Threats to Press Freedom in the United States,” was the journalist’s right to protect sources. Main speakers were reporters Judith Miller from The New York Times, and Matt Cooper, from Time magazine, who face jail time for maintaining their stance not to reveal their sources of information before a grand jury in a case that involves government leaks to the press.

While opening and describing the reasons for the forum, IAPA President Alejandro Miró Quesada, El Comercio, Lima, Peru, stressed that “many professionals have this privilege of secrecy, such as doctors, attorneys, and priests, to name a few.” But, added that, “none is as important to strengthening democracies as the privilege that lies in the newsgathering process between the reporters and his or her sources.”
The idea for the IAPA forum came after the organization protested during its Assembly in Panama in mid-March in a specific resolution (complete text follows) “to condemn in the strongest manner the attempt to force journalists to reveal confidential sources, and demand that prosecutors and judges stop this practice.”

Miller and Cooper never wrote a word on Valerie Plane and her husband, Joseph Wilson, in whose case they are being tried. To date, according to The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 30 journalists have received subpoenas in the United States in civil and criminal cases for issues of confidentiality of sources.

Miller defended her position to protect her sources despite the threat of imprisonment because “sources are the life-blood of journalism,” and pointed out “classified information is revealed all the time in Washington in various ways and various motives.”

“All too often,” Miller added, “the government tries to keep information classified to cover up waste, fraud, or abuse, and that should be our concern at this forum.”
Meanwhile, reporter Cooper expressed that “It’s not good for our culture and society to have journalists going to jail.” He added that his hope lies in “Congress passing a shield law to bring some order to this chaotic system.” A bill was introduced to Congress that could be passed within a year.

Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, stated that “today, we have 31 states with shield laws in addition to Washington, D.C. , although many Federal courts recognize journalist’s privilege for confidential sources.”

Sergio Muñoz, from the Los Angeles Times and chairman of the IAPA’s Chapultepec Committee paraphrasing Dalglish and concluding the forum with a consensus from the panelists indicated that in terms of press freedom in the United States, “this is the worst atmosphere we have seen in the U.S. in the last 35 years.” Dalglish compared the press freedom problems of the current government to those of the Nixon administration.

Another panelist, Kevin Hardy, from Williams & Connolly said that, “there is a dilemma between the privileges journalists have on confidential sources and the limits of the law. The law recognizes only qualified privileges.” He added that, “despite this, there is consensus about protecting journalists beyond the qualified privileges.”

Furthermore, Claudio Grossman, dean of the American University Washington College of Law and former president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said that, “contempt laws violate the American Convention on Human Rights.”

On the court rulings that attempt to send journalists to jail, he warned that, “the U.S. is a role model on freedom of expression. So, what is happening here has an impact in other countries in the hemisphere.”

Former IAPA President Jack Fuller, from Tribune Publishing Company, stressed that another reason for this forum is “to show solidarity with journalists in the United States.”

Following the forum, the organizers invited participants to a special ceremony at the U.S. Library of Congress. The Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation sponsors the IAPA’s Chapultepec Project.


Partial text of IAPA’s resolution on United States issued in Panama on March 14.

the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington D.C. circuit decided on February 15 that reporters Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matt Cooper of Time Magazine could be jailed if they continue to refuse to answer questions about their sources before a grand jury which is investigating whether an administration official knowingly revealed the identity of an undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame which was originally revealed by columnist Robert Novak in July 2003

Federal Judge Thomas Hogan ordered reporter Miller to jail for refusing to testify about confidential sources and that special prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald had exhausted other sources before subpoenaing Miller

reporter Cooper earlier agreed to provide limited testimony to the grand jury after one of his sources, vice presidential aide Lewis Libby, released him from a promise of confidentiality, but a special prosecutor later issued a second, broader subpoena seeking the names of other sources

reporter Miller and New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller have said they would not agree to provide testimony even if a supposed source released Miller from the promise of confidentiality

in a similar case, a New York federal judge, Robert Sweet, ruled that The New York Times did have a qualified right under federal law to protect the identity of its sources by refusing to release telephone records to a prosecutor who contended that the reporters alerted to two Islamic charities under investigation of impending raids

in December 2004 a federal judge sentenced a Providence TV reporter, Jim Taricani, to six months of house arrest for contempt after he refused to divulge who had leaked him a copy of a videotape of a city official taking a bribe from an undercover FBI informant

in August 2004 a judge found five reporters in contempt and subject to $500 a day in fines for refusing to say who gave them information about Wen Ho Lee, the former nuclear physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico
last summer three reporters at the San Francisco Chronicle and two others at the San Jose Mercury news were asked by federal prosecutors to reveal who had leaked information about the grand jury investigation into illegal steroid distribution by BALCO, Bay Area Laboratory Corp

Principle 3 of the Declaration of Chapultepec states, "No journalist may be forced to reveal his or her sources of information"

to condemn in the strongest manner the attempt to force journalists to reveal confidential sources, and demand that prosecutors and judges stop this practice.


IAPA Concerned about Court Ruling Threatening Reporters with Jail
The Press Freedom Group Will Convene Emergency Forum

Miami (February 16, 2004) -- The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) today joined the growing chorus of condemnation greeting the court ruling yesterday that could put two reporters behind bars for not revealing confidential sources.

"This ruling is just the latest in a series, and we seem to have entered a sad, new era of overly aggressive prosecutors demanding that reporters to do their investigative work for them," said Gonzalo Marroquín, Chairman of IAPA's Freedom of Press and Information Committee. "That's not only unfair," he lamented, "it also violates the strong American tradition of press freedom enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution."

Several other press freedom organizations have also condemned a three-judge federal appeals court ruling in Washington, DC upholding the earlier contempt finding against Judith Miller, The New York Times, and Matthew Cooper, Time. In the unanimous opinion issued yesterday, federal judges David Sentelle, David Tatel and Karen Henderson wrote that the First Amendment does not "provide protection for journalists' confidential sources in the context of a grand jury investigation."

The ruling lets stand the earlier finding of contempt by federal District Court Judge Thomas Hogan, who has sentenced each of them to 18 months in jail and a fine of $1,000 each day they continue refusing to testify. The case involves leaks to the reporters that allegedly identified as a CIA agent the wife of a critic of President George W. Bush. In the U.S. it has long been a federal crime to, knowingly, reveal the identity of a spy. Other reporters for The Washington Post and NBC television face similar subpoenas in the same case.

At its Mid-year meeting in Panama next month, IAPA will consider precisely this issue of American prosecutors and courts demanding confidential information from journalists. And association President Alejo Miro Quesada, recently said that IAPA will convene a special public meeting in Washington, DC on April 12 to analyze ways to protect confidential sources.

The event will be part of the Emergency Forum series convened by IAPA's Chapultepec Project throughout the hemisphere whenever a threat to press freedom arises. IAPA has invited two of the nearly two dozen American reporters currently facing jail or monetary fines for resisting similar subpoenas that demand they reveal confidential information. Prominent First Amendment lawyers and experts will also participate.

In a similar case:

IAPA condemns arrest of American journalist

Miami (December 13, 2004).- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) regrets and believes that six months of house arrest imposed on television reporter Jim Taricani for refusing to divulge his sources of information is a negative precedent for freedom of expression in the United States.

Taricani, an investigative reporter for NBC-affiliate WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island, was called to appear in court on November 18, where U.S. District Court Judge Ernest Torres, found him guilty of contempt for refusing to identify the source of a leaked videotape from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) that shows a local politician accepting a bribe. He was sentenced on December 9 to six months of house arrest.

“Once again we denounce these types of court rulings that force journalists to choose between being sanctioned or protecting the confidentiality of their sources, which affects the free flow of information,” said Gonzalo Marroquín, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information.

The IAPA already warned last August on the dangers to press freedom that legal actions in the United States have regarding the journalist’s right to protect their sources in the cases of reporters Matthew Cooper, from Time Magazine; Walter Pincus, from The Washington Post; Judith Miller, James Risen and Jeff Perth, from The New York Times; H. Josef Hebert, from the Associated Press; Robert Drogin, from Los Angeles Times, and Pierre Thomas, from ABC.

Marroquín, editor of the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre, also mentioned a resolution approved at the organization’s General Assembly held last October in Guatemala, that resolved, “to ask that the public’s right to know and the right to receive information and the journalists’ right to protect their sources be respected, safeguarding confidentiality of the news source, according to international treaties to which the United States is a signatory.” Likewise, it urges “American authorities not to utilize the media as an extended arm of their law enforcement activities by compelling them to reveal their privileged information and thus, avoiding the “chilling effect” detrimental to freedom of the press as guaranteed under the First Amendment.”