FOI DAILY DOSE: NYT, WSJ reporters face fight against gov over subpoenas

News orgs file brief supporting WSJ reporter in subpoena controversy

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 46 other media organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Wall Street Journal reporter Jesse Eisinger’s motion to quash a subpoena calling for his testimony in a New York court case.

The case involves a Massachusetts couple that is suing Goldman Sachs for providing advice for a financial partnership that failed when the technology company they were dealing with collapsed under problems with financial fraud.

Eisinger (now a reporter for ProPublica and a 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner) is called to testify on how he found information about the company’s financial issues, which the couple argues Goldman Sachs should also have been able to find if they had done a thorough investigation.

A trial judge said she doubted whether Eisinger’s testimony would be relevant in the case, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

SPJ has spoken out in Eisinger’s defense as well.

Gov hanging tough in subpoena against Risen

New York Times reporter James Risen may have a tough fight in court July 7 as he fights a federal subpoena in a CIA leak case.

Government prosecutors highlighted the need for Risen’s testimony in their case against Jeffrey Sterling. The ex-CIA officer is accused of leaking information about an agency operation involving Iran’s nuclear program to Risen.

The federal government believes Risen’s input is critical to the case because the testimony of Sterling’s wife from a grand jury investigation may not be available in the trial due to spousal privilege, prosecutors said.

An intelligence officer who learned that Sterling may have been a source for Risen may be unable to testify in the trial as well due to hearsay rules, which a government brief argues makes Risen an even more important player in the case.

The New York Times’ decision not to run the story on the CIA operation (although information about it later appeared in Risen’s 2006 book “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration”) may also weaken arguments for quashing the subpoena, according to Politico.

The prosecution’s brief also said that the idea of a “good leak” of information shouldn’t be entertained by the court because any unauthorized disclosure of classified data undermines the entire system.

In his motion to quash the subpoena, Risen asked the court to consider merits of the leak in terms of the public interest served by newsgathering, according to a Secrecy News blog post.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).

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