(CN) – The U.S. government filed another motion to get New York Times reporter James Risen on the stand to testify against Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer accused of sharing classified information.
Though a federal judge sharply limited the scope of Risen’s testimony in a July order, prosecutors have asked for reconsideration in light of new developments. The court said at the time that prosecutors have other sources aside from Risen who can implicate Sterling as the source of the leak.
The court had partly based this decision on the word of a former intelligence officer who has recently told prosecutors that he mistakenly linked two conversations he had with Risen when testifying before the grand jury testimony. In his original testimony, the officer mentioned two conversations he had with Risen, one specifically about Sterling, and one, several months later, concerning generic questions about CIA activity. The witness now claims that he cannot say whether Risen had connected that second conversation to Sterling.
In July, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said this former official’s testimony provided “exactly what the government seeks to obtain from its subpoena to Mr. Risen: an admission that Sterling was Risen’s source for the classified information.”
Now that this former official has allegedly changed his testimony, “Risen is the only source for the information the government seeks to present to the jury,” according to the motion.
Sterling’s strategy will unfairly call into question the character and reputations of many innocent individuals, prosecutors said.
“The defendant plans to point the finger at as many other individuals as possible, in a scattershot effort to manufacture reasonable doubt as to the identity of the individual who leaked national defense information to Mr. Risen,” according to the eight-page motion.
Risen’s testimony alone can help the government “definitively exclude” these indivisauls as the source of the leak, prosecutors say.
Sterling’s expert also plans to show how Risen’s writing style – specifically his use of the third person rather than quotation marks – implies that he got he obtained access to classified information from multiple individuals, according to the government’s brief.
“Only Mr. Risen can testify as to the meaning of his use of quotation marks,” government argued.