James Risen has been part of several intelligence breaches that have hurt the security of the United States. He was the New York Times reporter who broke the story on the NSA’s eavesdropping program and its ability to track terrorist finances. Risen is now involved in the trial of ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling:
Sterling was indicted last year on ten felony counts, including charges that he violated the Espionage Act by disclosing top-secret information to Risen about a CIA effort to undermine Iran’s reputed nuclear weapons program by giving the country flawed nuclear designs.
Risen is refusing to testify in the case, prompting a difficult First Amendment case.
Risen has adamantly refused to testify about his sources. It’s really looking like they want to put Risen in prison,” MacMahon [his lawyer] said in a brief interview. “I guess that’s what they want to do….For the journalists in the world, it’s quite a significant First Amendment appeal.”
The Department of Justice is appealing an earlier ruling that Risen would not be forced to testify in depth regarding his sources; hopefully, the appeal will be successful. There was no real reason for this former CIA officer or James Risen to divulge these programs; the real pity is that only Jeffrey Sterling is on trial.