Time-Warner accused of profound betrayal over naming sources

Dominic Ponsford
 
Time-Warner has been accused of “profound
betrayal” and “damaging journalism the world over” for handing over
documents that will identify a confidential journalistic source.
 
Reporter Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and
Judith Miller of the New York Times have been charged with contempt of
court over refusing to reveal the identity of the contact who leaked a
CIA officer’s name.
 
The New York Times says it has no relevant
documents but Time-Warner said in a statement: “The same constitution
that protects the freedom of the press requires obedience to final
decisions of the courts and respect for their rulings and judgments.
That Time Inc strongly disagrees with the courts provides no immunity.”
 
The two reporters face possible jail over the
naming of a CIA agent days after her husband, a former Ambassador, said
the case for invading Iraq was flawed. Although Cooper wrote a story
about Plame, Miller conducted interviews but did not write a piece.
 
International Federation of Journalists general
secretary Aidan White said: “The action of Time-Warner is a profound
betrayal of the cardinal principle of journalism. The company’s
decision to repudiate their own reporter when he seeks to defend the
ethics of journalism is unconscionable. This failure of principle is
not just a blow to professionalism and morale in one company, it is
damaging for journalism the world over.”
 
In another case highlighted by the IFJ, a US
appeals court decision has upheld contempt findings against four
reporters who refused to identify sources for their stories about
dismissed government scientist, Wen Ho Lee.
 
Lee is seeking documents from the reporters in a
civil action against the government and a judge has imposed $500-a-day
fines on the reporters.
 
White said: “This is another action that puts
intolerable pressure on journalists. It’s time for US judges to look at
the consequences for democracy and press freedom when they declare open
season on anyone who talks to a reporter inthe public interest.”
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