Wednesday, October 13, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A second reporter was held in contempt yesterday by a federal judge for refusing to reveal confidential sources before a grand jury investigating the leak of an undercover CIA officer’s identity.

U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ordered Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper jailed for up to 18 months and the magazine fined $1,000 a day for refusing to comply with a grand jury subpoena seeking the testimony.

Judge Hogan suspended the jail time and fine pending the outcome of an appeal.

The ruling was nearly identical to one issued last week by Judge Hogan in the case of Judith Miller, a reporter for the New York Times who also is refusing to name her sources. The reporters, both represented by lawyer Floyd Abrams, are expected to join together in appealing their cases on First Amendment grounds.



“No reporter in the United States should have to go to jail for simply doing their job,” said Mr. Cooper, who is Time’s White House correspondent.

Judge Hogan repeatedly has cited the Supreme Court in ruling that reporters do not enjoy special protection from providing testimony to grand juries unless they can show prosecutorial harassment or bad faith.

The judge said he could find no evidence of either on the part of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who was appointed special prosecutor in the investigation.

“I’m convinced this is not a fishing expedition or an improper exercise of prosecutorial authority,” Judge Hogan said.

Mr. Fitzgerald declined to comment yesterday.

The investigation concerns whether a crime was committed when someone leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose name was published by syndicated columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003.

The column appeared after Mrs. Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, wrote a newspaper opinion column criticizing President Bush’s claim that Iraq had sought uranium in Niger — a claim the CIA had asked Mr. Wilson to examine.

Mr. Wilson has said he believes his wife’s name was leaked as payback.

Disclosure of the identity of an undercover intelligence officer can be a federal crime, if prosecutors can show the leak was intentional and the person who leaked the information knew about the officer’s secret status.

Mr. Novak, who cited two senior administration officials as his sources, has refused to say whether he has testified or been subpoenaed.

Prosecutors have interviewed Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and other current or former administration officials in the investigation. At least five reporters have been subpoenaed.

In August, Mr. Cooper agreed to provide limited testimony about a conversation he had with Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, after Mr. Libby released Mr. Cooper from his promise of confidentiality.

Mr. Fitzgerald then issued a second, broader subpoena seeking the names of other sources.

“The prosecutor came back a few days later and basically asked for everything in my notebook,” Mr. Cooper said.

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