May 1, 2006

Journalists not immune to subpoenas: Cox

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission would subpoena journalists only as a last resort in
its enforcement actions, the investor protection agency's head
said on Monday.

"We will go to journalists last," SEC Chairman Christopher
Cox told journalists assembled here for the Society of Business
Editors and Writers' annual convention.

The SEC in April adopted a new policy saying journalists
would only rarely be subpoenaed for information in
investigations. Instead, the agency would seek essential
information from alternative sources before possibly seeking
subpoenas from journalists.

Asked if the work of journalists could feel a chilling
effect from just one subpoena, Cox said, "Of course."

However, the SEC "will not always be able to guarantee that
journalists will be hermetically sealed from their
responsibility as citizens," he said.

The new SEC policy followed an incident in February when
SEC subpoenas were issued to two Dow Jones & Co. columnists as
part of an investigation involving online retailer Inc..