June 29, 2005

US should drop reporter subpoena in leak probe-OSCE

VIENNA (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalesshould drop a subpoena against two U.S. reporters who faceprison if they do not reveal secret sources, Europe's biggestrights watchdog said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld a court ruling thatthe two journalists should be jailed for refusing to revealconfidential sources to a grand jury investigating the leak ofa covert CIA operative's name to the news media.

"A journalist's right to freely access information and dealwith sources in confidence is paramount for free reporting anddiscussion of public issues," Miklos Haraszti, media freedomchief at the Organization for Security and Cooperation inEurope (OSCE), said in a statement.

The Supreme Court decision blocked an appeal by New YorkTimes correspondent Judith Miller and Time magazine reporterMatthew Cooper, who argued they should not have to testifybefore a grand jury.

An appeals court ruled they should be held in contempt andjailed for refusing to testify in the investigation of wholeaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame in 2003 tosyndicated columnist Robert Novak, who revealed her identity ina column.

Haraszti sent a letter to Gonzales on Tuesday urging him todrop his subpoena of Miller and Cooper, the OSCE said.

"My concern is with the role of the prosecution in bringingthese two cases to trial," Haraszti said.

"While no so-called shield law allowing journalists toprotect their sources exists at the federal level, the majorityof states have them and the U.S. Congress is considering actionon this matter," he added.