ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Federal prosecutors issued a subpoena for a New York Times reporter to testify about classified documents he allegedly received from a former CIA operative who is charged with illegally leaking the information.
In a court filing late Monday, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia said they expect the reporter, James Risen, will try to quash the subpoena. Risen has not cooperated in the case against ex-CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling, a resident of O'Fallon, Mo.
A judge previously quashed a subpoena issued to Risen earlier in the case. But prosecutors say Risen's testimony would be relevant to a jury, and that reporters enjoy no special privilege under federal law to avoid testifying.
"Mr. Risen is an eyewitness to those crimes. Mr. Risen's testimony, like that of any other citizen in his situation, should therefore be admitted to permit the jury to carry out its truth-seeking function," prosecutors wrote in a court filing seeking to compel Risen's testimony at trial.
Prosecutors allege Sterling was a source for Risen in a book about CIA operations in Iran.
A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride in the Eastern District of Virginia referred calls to the Justice Department. Spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said the department has extensive procedures in place that require the attorney general himself to sign off on subpoenaing a journalist.
Sterling's lawyer, Edward MacMahon, and Risen's lawyer, Joel Kurtzberg, did not immediately return calls Tuesday seeking comment.
A New York Times spokeswoman also did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Sterling, who is black, has a long, contentious history with the CIA. He filed a racial discrimination complaint with the agency's Equal Opportunity office in 2000 and followed that up with several federal lawsuits.
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