NEFAC Disappointed in Supreme Court Decision, Renews Call to Withdraw Subpoena Against Risen


CONTACT Rose Cavanagh | 401.331.7209 |

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from James Risen, a reporter for The New York Times and recipient of the New England First Amendment Coalition’s 2014 Stephen Hamblett Award.

Risen at NEFAC’s 2014 Annual Awards Luncheon.

Risen faces jail time for refusing to identify a confidential source used in his 2006 book “State of War.” Prosecutors in a criminal trial involving a former CIA official argue that they need Risen’s testimony to prove that the former official acted as Risen’s source. NEFAC petitioned the U.S. Justice Department in February, requesting their subpoena be withdrawn.

While disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear Risen’s case, Rosanna Cavanagh, NEFAC’s executive director, said the Justice Department should again consider withdrawing its subpoena and ending this legal battle.

“Mr. Risen is one of the most respected investigative journalists in the country,” Cavanagh said. “Though it’s unfortunate that the court decided against hearing his case, it is still time for this crusade by the Obama Administration to end. Threatening journalists with jail time not only infringes on the freedom of our press but also the ability of the public to stay informed of matters of great concern.”

Risen received NEFAC’s Hamblett Award earlier this year at the coalition’s annual luncheon. His appeal to the Supreme Court would have addressed whether journalists have a legal right under the First Amendment not to reveal their sources in the context of a criminal investigation.

“The choice is get out of the business – give up everything I believe in – or go to jail,”Risen said during the luncheon. “They’ve backed me into a corner.”

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.