Posted by Curt on 5 June, 2006 at 8:49 pm. Be the first to comment!

I really don't think Dana Priest and James Risen were looking for this result:

The Supreme Court refused on Monday to consider the cases of journalists who protected confidential sources for stories about former nuclear weapons scientist Wen Ho Lee, a final note in a legal fight that pitted press freedoms against privacy rights.

The court's action, taken without comment, was announced three days after the decision of news organizations to pay Lee $750,000 as part of the $1.6 million settlement of his privacy lawsuit against the government.

The settlement erased civil contempt of court citations against reporters for refusing to disclose who leaked them information about an espionage investigation of Lee, who was fired from his job at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Lee sued the government for violating his rights under the Privacy Act, and said he needed the reporters' testimony to tell him who in the government attempted to smear him as a spy for China. He was never charged with espionage.

Justices could have dismissed the appeal as moot, or no longer an issue, based on the out-of-court settlement. Instead, they rejected the appeal, which had been filed on behalf of the reporters during the legal wrangling with Lee.

Betsy Miller, one of Lee's lawyers, called the court decision a surprise that "is an important, final vindication for Dr. Lee, as it resolves without any doubt that the court did not feel the reporters' appeals merited further review."

This sends a clear signal that reporters who receive classified information and then proceed to print it for the world to see can and will face justice.

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