June 30, 2005

Judge gives extension to reporters in leak probe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A judge on Wednesday gave twojournalists one more week before deciding their sentence forrefusing to reveal confidential sources to a grand juryinvestigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's name to thenews media.

U.S. District Chief Judge Thomas Hogan told New York Timescorrespondent Judith Miller and Time magazine reporter MatthewCooper they were in contempt of court for refusing to testifyand repeated a warning that they would serve jail time if theydid not comply with court orders.

"The court issues orders (that) have to be obeyed if we'regoing to have civilized society. The time has now come toproceed," said Hogan.

The judge last year found Miller and Cooper in contempt andsaid they should be jailed for refusing to testify in theinvestigation of who leaked the name of CIA operative ValeriePlame to syndicated columnist Robert Novak in 2003. Novakrevealed Plame's identity in a column.

An appeals court upheld Hogan's ruling and the SupremeCourt rejected a further appeal.

Hogan said the journalists and Time Magazine, which wasalso found in contempt, had until Friday to decide whether theywould comply with the order to testify. The government hasuntil Tuesday to respond and a hearing was scheduled for July 6to determine the sentence.

A lawyer for Time asked Hogan for time to allow themagazine to evaluate its response. "We would like to franklylook at every single alternative and try to avoid ... thiscrisis and avoid journalists going to jail," said TheodoreBoutrous.

Time has been asked to turn over Cooper's notes frominterviews relating to the stories about Plame.

Lawyers for Cooper and Miller said they would not complywith the order to testify.

Asked if he wanted Time to turn over his notes, Cooper saidafter the hearing, "I would rather they did not. But they haveto make their own decision ... The corporation is differentthan a citizen. It has different obligations."

Cooper and Miller could face up to 120 days -- theremainder of the grand jury's term -- in jail. Hogan askedtheir lawyers to file briefs by Friday with their suggestionsfor terms of confinement.