A federal judge in Alexandria, Va., ordered an investigation into how reporters learned that two pro-Israel lobbyists were under federal investigation before they were formally charged, reports the Washington Post. The paper says the action creates “even more scrutiny of the media in a case with broad First Amendment implications.” The ruling by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III came in the case against Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, who are charged with receiving and disseminating national defense information. The case could lead to criminal prosecutions of reporters or newspapers that print classifed information.
Ellis ordered the Justice Department to conduct a leak investigation into whether government employees disclosed details of the investigation to CBS News in 2004. The case alarms First Amendment advocates, who say it criminalizes the type of information exchange that happens every day among journalists, lobbyists, and others in Washington. Prosecutors argues that disclosing sensitive defense information could harm national security.