Filmmaker Fights Bowe Bergdahl Subpoenas

     (CN) — Four months after being hit with a U.S. Army subpoena, filmmaker Mark Boal filed a federal lawsuit asserting reporter’s privilege over his uncut interviews with Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for the podcast “Serial.”
     Boal, who wrote the screenplays for “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” spoke to Bergdahl for more than 25 hours to learn why the sergeant left his combat outpost in Afghanistan’s Paktika province and explore his life under Taliban captivity.
     Their conversation filled 11 episodes of the second season of “Serial,” a Peabody-award winning show that had recently made a splash by poking holes in the murder trial of Baltimore resident Adnan Syed.
     Boal’s exclusive chat with Bergdahl was an undeniable coup.
     The 30-year-old sergeant, who had never spoken to the press before, broke his silence at great risk.
     Four days after the first episode aired in December, an Army investigating officer referred Bergdahl’s case for court-martial on counts of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, allegations that could put the young sergeant away for life.
     Military prosecutors and their commander-in-chief took notice of the podcast.
     In March, Bergdahl’s prosecutor, Maj. Justin Oshana, subpoenaed Boal’s production company Page 1 for the “complete unedited audio recordings” of the filmmaker’s conversations with the sergeant, on behalf of President Barack Obama.
     With a February trial looming, the Hollywood filmmaker and longtime war correspondent told a Central California federal judge on Wednesday that quashing his subpoena is a matter of freedom of the press.
     “Without this court’s protection, plaintiffs — and specifically Boal — will be forced to provide a military prosecutor in North Carolina with unpublished materials and confidential information or face contempt charges in this court under [federal law],” the 11-page complaint states. “Plaintiffs, civilians based in Los Angeles, ask this court to protect their reporter’s privilege, rooted in the First Amendment and recognized in this circuit and nationwide, to maintain in confidence their unpublished materials and confidential information.”
     The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press told the New York Times that it would support Boal’s lawsuit in a friend-of-the-court brief.
     This is not first time military lawyers demanded a peek inside Boal’s creative process.
     In 2013, attorneys for Ammar al-Baluchi, the accused financier of the Sept. 11 attacks, filed a motion accusing the CIA of giving more information for their client’s torture to “Zero Dark Thirty” filmmakers than to his defense team in Guantánamo Bay.
     The 418-page legal motion before the military commission hoped to turn Boal into a defense witness.
     Earlier this year, Guantanamo’s war court held a screening of the movie’s torture scenes that made one of the attorneys for the accused 9/11 financier sick to her stomach, the Miami Herald reported.
     When asked about the lawsuit, Army spokesman Paul Boyce said in an email: “We continue to maintain careful respect for the military-judicial process, the rights of the accused, and ensuring the case’s fairness and impartiality during this ongoing legal case.”
     Media relations for “Serial” did not immediately respond to an email request for comment Friday.

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