New York Times journalist James Risen delivered tense testimony before the U.S. Department of Justice Monday, after dodging a summons for seven years over his alleged CIA sources.
The Pulitzer Prize winner reported to the Virginia Federal District court where he was questioned in an ongoing case against Jeffrey A. Sterling — a former CIA operative accused of divulging information to Risen for the journalist’s 2006 book “State of War.” The government suspects Sterling of spilling details on a botched CIA mission in Iran, documented in his book’s ninth chapter.
“I am not going to provide the government with information that they seem to want to use to create a mosaic to prove or disprove certain facts,” Risen said.
“It is your position that, regardless of any threat of sanctions, you would not testify as to the identity of the source or sources who provided information for chapter nine?” asked Federal prosecutor James Trump. Risen maintained he would not.
Though heated, the exchange doesn’t carry as much consequence as it could — it was previously reported that Attorney General Eric Holder would not force Risen to unmask his confidential source, avoiding any jailtime for Risen.
Risen was first investigated in 2008 under the Bush administration, which invoked the Espionage Act to subpoena Risen. He successfully avoided appearing until the subpoena expired in 2009, thought it was renewed in a controversial move by the Obama administration a year later.
Sterling heads to trial on Monday, January 12. The judge presiding over Risen’s testimony did not indicate if Risen would have to testify, said the Times.