Reporters face jail threat in Australian case

By Dominic Ponsford

Just months after the jailing of US journalist Judith Miller for
refusing to name a source, two senior Australian reporters face the
prospect of prison under similar circumstances.

Gerard McManus and Michael Harvey are both senior political
reporters working on the Rupert Murdoch-owned Herald Sun and were
called as witnesses in the pre-trial hearing of senior civil servant
Desmond Patrick Kelly who has been accused of leaking information to
the press.

They refused to reveal their source and are now
expected to be formally charged with contempt of court. They were told
by a judge that they had no right in law not to answer questions about
the identity of their source.

Harvey argued that he was upholding an important principle of journalistic conduct.

Civil
servant Kelly is facing a possible charge of unauthorised disclosure of
information which carries a maximum two-year jail term. The alleged
leak detailed a government plan not to deliver $500 million in extra
pensions to veterans and widows. The plan was later dropped after it
was publicly criticised.

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