The Supreme Court has declined to intervene in the case of James Risen, a New York Times reporter who is facing jail time for refusing to identify a confidential source.
In a one-line order Monday, the court turned down Risen’s appeal, effectively siding with the government. Federal authorities say they need to know the name of a source for a chapter of his 2006 book “State of War” in order to protect national security. They are trying to prove that Risen’s source was former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., ordered Risen to give up his source. He faces jail time if he doesn’t, but has said he will not cooperate. Journalists say the case threatens freedom of the press.
“Jim Risen is a groundbreaking national security reporter who continues to do powerful work,” New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said in a statement. “Journalists like Jim depend on confidential sources to get information the public needs to know. The court’s failure to protect journalists’ right to protect their sources is deeply troubling.”
The case continues the government’s long and contentious relationship with Risen. In 2011, his attorneys said prosecutors obtained his telephone, credit and bank records to build their case against Sterling, who was accused of leaking national defense information to the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter. Prosecutors also obtained Risen’s credit reports and travel records, his lawyers said.
The Times did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment Monday.
Sterling has pleaded not guilty to charges including unauthorized retention and disclosure of classified information, mail fraud and obstruction of justice.