Owners of the Phoenix, Az., New Times, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, were arrested last night by Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies on charges of revealing grand jury information, a misdemeanor, the Arizona Republic reports. The charges stem from a story published under their byline yesterday in which they describe a subpoena the paper reportedly received from a grand jury convened by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. The two said they viewed the subpoena as an attack on freedom of the press.
The alternative weekly newspaper said the subpoena was part of an investigation orchestrated to get back at its reporters and the critical stories they wrote of County Attorney Andrew Thomas’ political ally Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The scope of the subpoena is unusually broad: It not only demands information from the reporters but also information about all the online readers of the publication since Jan. .1, 2004, including their Internet domain names and browsers and what other Web sites they visited before reading New Times. New Times editor Rick Barrs said, “They’re trying to muzzle us. This is retaliation against us. And it’s not just retaliation against us, it’s retaliation against the press.” Lacey is executive editor of Village Voice Media, which owns Phoenix New Times and several other papers across the country. The subpoena originates from a series of articles published in 2004 and 2005. Underlying the subpoena is an allegation that the paper published Arpaio’s home address, which the County Attorney’s Office alleges is a crime.