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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Feds Want to Seal Parts of CIA Leak Hearing

(CN) - A former CIA officer accused of leaking defense secrets will not oppose the government's motion to seal portions of the upcoming oral argument before the 4th Circuit.

Jeffrey Sterling is accused of leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen, who used the information in Chapter 9 of his 2006 book "State of War."

Though a federal judge found that Risen does not have to reveal his source because of reporter's privilege, the government has appealed this issue to the Richmond, Va.-based court.

On April 6, 2012, the court requested the parties' views "on whether all of the oral argument should be held in a sealed courtroom, or whether the argument should be bifurcated, with a portion of the argument held in an open courtroom, and the portion of the argument related to the classified materials held in a sealed courtroom."

After the parties conferred, the government responded to the court's letter with an unopposed motion requesting that the court divide the oral argument in two.

Prosecutors asked that the first and public portion of the oral argument be devoted to "whether intervenor James Risen has a constitutional or common law privilege to refuse to disclose his source." They said that this issue "will not require the parties to discuss or consult classified materials during oral argument."

The government requested that the "the second and third issues on appeal - concerning the district court's discovery order and its order related to witness security - do involve classified information, and the district court's decisions concerning these matters were announced at sealed hearings conducted pursuant to the Classified Information Procedures Act. It is necessary and appropriate to seal the courtroom during the oral argument concerning these issues."

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