ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – New York Times reporter and best-selling author James Risen asked a federal judge to quash a subpoena to testify in the criminal trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent accused of leaking information to Risen.
“The subpoena should be quashed and/or a protective order entered because the testimony the government seeks is protected by the reporter’s privilege arising under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and under federal common law, and the government has failed to demonstrate that that privilege does not apply,” Risen’s attorney wrote in the motion to quash the subpoena and request a protective order.
Risen’s 2006 best-seller “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration,” reports numerous and controversial allegations of CIA mismanagement under several presidential administrations.
Chapter nine is a focal point of the subpoena. The chapter “focuses primarily on ‘Operation Merlin,’ a reportedly botched attempt by the CIA, during the Clinton Administration, to have a former Russian scientist pass on fake and intentionally flawed nuclear blueprints to Iran,” according to the 61-page filing, large sections of which have been blacked out.
“The Bush Administration was embarrassed by the disclosures I made in the course of my reporting for State of War as well as in The New York Times, and eventually singled me out as a target for political harassment,” Risen states in an affidavit attached to the motion.
He added: “I believe that the investigation that led to this prosecution started because of my reporting on the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program. The Bush White House was furious over that story.”
The subpoena seeks the identity of his confidential sources for chapter nine.
“I cannot agree to provide the testimony that the government seeks,” Risen says in his affidavit.
He adds: “Any testimony I were to provide to the government would compromise to a significant degree my ability to continue reporting as well as the ability of other journalists to do so.”
Risen is represented by Peter Stackhouse.