New York Times reporter James Risen is refusing to testify in the government's case against former CIA official Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of leaking sensitive information about Iranian nuclear ambitions.
The Bush Administration first went after Risen when he and fellow Times writer Eric Lichtblau first reported about the NSA's warrantless, secret electronic surveillance program in 2005—long before Edward Snowden was exiled in Moscow for revealing similar information. Risen went on to publish a book in 2006 about a failed CIA operation to sabotage Iran's nuclear program.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a report this year:
These kinds of revelations enabled Americans to learn about questionable actions by their government and judge for themselves. But they infuriated Bush administration officials, who tried to persuade news executives to stop or delay such stories, which depended, in part, on confidential government sources of classified information. The Bush administration started intensive investigations to identify the sources for the stories on CIA secret prisons and NSA electronic surveillance and for Risen’s book. By the time Bush left office, no one had been prosecuted, although a CIA officer was fired for unreported contacts with Priest, and several Justice Department investigations were continuing.
Though the Obama Administration criticized the excessive secrecy of his predecessor, it hasn't proven any better when it comes to transparency and allowing journalists access.
Now Risen is saying he'll take the fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if he has to.
In an interview with his newspaper's public editor, he said "I think a lot of people now recognize the significance of this case. I will go to jail if necessary to keep up this fight."
A federal appeals court declined to hear his appeal Tuesday, opening the way for Risen to take the case to the highest court in the country for answers on First Amendment rights.
The Justice Department has declined comment on the case.