The Committee to Protect Journalists has written to US President Barack Obama to ask him to stop threatening journalists with spying charges.
The CPJ sent the letter following a major clampdown in the aftermath of revelations by US whistleblower Edward Snowden in The Guardian.
The lobby group was established to protect journalists across the globe and has become increasingly concerned about the methods used to uncover journalist sources.
According to Leonard Downie Jnr, former executive editor of The Washington Post there is genuine fear among officials looking to speak to journalists in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks published by The Guardian.
“In the Obama administration’s Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press. Those suspected of discussing with reporters anything that the government has classified as secret are subject to investigation, including lie-detector tests and scrutiny of their telephone and e-mail records. An 'Insider Threat Program' being implemented in every government department requires all federal employees to help prevent unauthorised disclosures of information by monitoring the behaviour of their colleagues.”
The CPJ’s letter features a six-point plan including the guarantee that journalists should not be at legal risk or prosecuted for receiving confidential or classified information.
The letter also urges President Obama to limit surveillance on journalists’ communications so they can protect their sources.
Other recommendations include a complete halt on charging those responsible for leaking classified information to journalists with espionage and to encourage openness within government.
According to the letter: “We are writing to express our concern regarding a pattern of actions taken by your administration that impedes the flow of information on issues of great public interest and thwarts the free and open discussion necessary to a democracy. We cite specifically the use of secret subpoenas against news organisations, prosecutions that equate leaking classified documents to the press with espionage and the increased limitations on access to information that is in the public interest.”
For a full copy of the letter click on this link.