FlikrThe Department of Justice heavily tracked Fox News reporter James Rosen during a 2009 leak probe, according to a report from Ann E. Marimow in the Washington Post.
The report comes at a time when the Obama administration is facing renewed scrutiny over leak investigations, a week after the Associated Press said that the Department of Justice had obtained more than two months of some of its reporters’ phone records.
For many in the media world, this case seems even more troubling. It involves the prosecution of Stephen J. Kim, who revealed classified information to Rosen. According to the report, Kim told Rosen that the U.S. believed North Korea would react to new United Nations sanctions by employing more nuclear tests.
What makes this case different than the AP probe is that Rosen is a possible target. In addition to tracking his trips to and from the State Department as well as personal calls and emails, FBI agent Reginald Reyes suggested in court documents obtained by the Post that Rosen had broken the law. He was not charged.
From the Post’s report:
Reyes wrote that there was evidence Rosen had broken the law, “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.” That fact distinguishes his case from the probe of the AP, in which the news organisation is not the likely target.
Using italics for emphasis, Reyes explained how Rosen allegedly used a “covert communications plan” and quoted from an e-mail exchange between Rosen and Kim that seems to describe a secret system for passing along information. […]
However, it remains an open question whether it’s ever illegal, given the First Amendment’s protection of press freedom, for a reporter to solicit information. No reporter, including Rosen, has been prosecuted for doing so.
The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza suggested that the Obama administration was “criminalizing reporting,” and the Daily Beast’s Eli Lake called it a “war on journalism”:
Case against Fox’s Rosen, in which O admin is criminalizing reporting, makes all of the other “scandals” look like giant nothing burgers.
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) May 20, 2013
Serious idea. Instead of calling it Obama’s war on whistleblowers, let’s just call it what it is: Obama’s war on journalism.
— Eli Lake (@EliLake) May 20, 2013
Kim, meanwhile, has pleaded not guilty and could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Neither Rosen nor Fox News immediately responded to a request for comment on Monday.
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