AP’s Pruitt Honored for Battling DOJ on Journalists’ Records

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Associated Press president and chief executive officer Gary B. Pruitt was honored Thursday night for his battle against the Justice Department’s secretly obtaining records of more than 20 telephone lines belonging to the AP and its journalists. Pruitt was named a “constitutional champion” by The Constitution Project, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that works for criminal justice reform and “consensus-based solutions” to constitutional problems. As a result of protests by the AP and others, the Justice Department adopted new guidelines that increased protections for journalists.

Accepting the award, Pruitt said the episode had helped establish that “it’s not a crime to commit journalism.” He urged the news media to continue acting as a “counterbalance” to government, and he warned, “Beware of government that loves secrecy too much.” The Constitution Project also honored Washington lawyers Brendan Sullivan and Robert Cary for their defense of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) on charges of making false statements to investigators, and lawyers Henry Schuelke and William Shields, who wrote a report commissioned by a federal judge establishing that Justice Department prosecutors improperly withheld significant exculpatory evidence from Stevens’ attorneys.

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