One of the biggest battles over U.S. press freedom in decades is now about to come to a head, and we need your help.
James Risen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times who exposed the original NSA warrantless wiretapping program, may be headed to prison. The Justice Department is trying to force him to testify against one of his alleged sources, and Risen recently lost his bid to have his reporter's privilege case heard before the Supreme Court. If he refuses testify—as he has vowed to—he could be issued a fine large enough to bankrupt him, or imprisoned.
This is totally unacceptable in a country that values the First Amendment and press freedom. Journalists need to be able to protect the confidentiality of their sources to get information out to the public, and if they are forced to reveal their sources in court, they may never be able to gain their sources' trust again.
Along with Roots Action and a coalition of other groups, we are hosting a petition to the Justice Department demanding that they drop their damaging pursuit of James Risen. Norman Solomon, the co-founder of Roots Action, wrote in Columbia Journalism Review this week that the other major press freedom groups, such as Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporter's Committee for Freeodom of the Press, have thrown their weight behind the petition as well.
Thanks to many of you who have already signed on, the petition has over 100,000 signatures. But we need as many signatures as possible before we deliver the petition to the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder in two weeks.
So please go here, and add your name to the growing list of people that are telling the Justice Department: halt all legal action against James Risen and stop trying to punish reporters for doing their job.