FBI cast reporter as criminal in probe of North Korea leak
WASHINGTON — In another case of the Obama administration's investigating classified information improperly disclosed to reporters, the government is prosecuting a State Department expert on North Korea in a probe that appears to step into uncharted territory — by declaring that a journalist is committing a crime in disclosing leaked information.
During the investigation of State Department adviser Stephen Kim, law enforcement officials obtained a search warrant for some private emails of James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News. Investigators also tracked Rosen's comings and goings from the State Department.
An FBI agent seeking the search warrant spelled out the government's view of the journalist's role, saying that the reporter is a co-conspirator and that there is probable cause to believe the reporter committed a violation of criminal law.
“We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter,” said Michael Clemente, Fox's executive vice president for news. “In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”
Kim, who is awaiting trial, is accused of revealing secrets to the news organization. No charges have been filed against Rosen.
The Kim case is further along than a more recent leak probe in which prosecutors secretly subpoenaed Associated Press phone records. In the AP case, AP President and Chief Executive Gary Pruitt said the government's conduct has had a chilling effect on news gathering, a week after the subpoenas were revealed publicly.
In June 2009, Rosen reported that U.S. intelligence officials warned President Obama and senior federal officials that North Korea would respond to a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning nuclear tests with another nuclear test.
The 2010 affidavit for a search warrant, first reported by The Washington Post, does not identify Rosen as “the reporter,” but he wrote the story at issue, and Fox News confirmed it was him on Monday.
The White House would not comment about tracking Rosen, citing an ongoing criminal investigation. Instead, White House spokesman Jay Carney cited a media shield law Obama supports as evidence of his commitment to journalistic freedom, reprising an argument the White House used a week earlier in declining to address the Justice Department's probe involving AP.
“The president believes it's important that we find a proper balance between a need — absolute need — to protect our secrets and to prevent leaks that can jeopardize the lives of Americans and can jeopardize our national security interests on the one hand, and the need to defend the First Amendment and protect the ability of reporters to pursue investigative journalism,” Carney said.
In the Kim case, “based on the investigation and all of the facts known to date, no other individuals, including the reporter, have been charged since Mr. Kim was indicted nearly three years ago,” said the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, which is prosecuting the case.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Appeals court upholds nation of origin labels for meat
- Chemical plan inspection program ‘broken’
- Swift action expected of VA’s new secretary
- Harshest sanctions yet target Russian finances, arms
- Highway funding overhaul sought
- Obama wants to end U.S. companies skirting tax laws by merging with overseas entities
- Cedar Point attraction mishap injures 2 riders
- Study: 35 percent in U.S. facing debt collectors
- Surgeon general echoes warnings about skin cancer
- Obama’s many rules often violate statute
- N.H. kidnapping suspect held on $1M bail