Journalists Outraged at U.S. Charge Fox Reporter Was “Co-Conspirator” On Leak

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Journalists, First Amendment watchdogs, and government transparency advocates reacted with outrage to the revelation that the Justice Department had investigated the newsgathering activities of a Fox News reporter as a potential crime in a probe of classified leaks, the Washington Post reports. Critics said the government's suggestion that James Rosen, Fox News's chief Washington correspondent, was a “co-conspirator” for soliciting classified information threatened to criminalize press freedoms protected by the First Amendment. Others suggested that the Justice Department's claim in pursuing an alleged leak from the State Department was little more than pretext to seize his e-mails to build their case against the suspected leaker. “It is downright chilling,” said Fox News executive Michael Clemente. “We will unequivocally defend [Rosen's] right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.” Steven Aftergood of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said, “Asking for information has never been deemed a crime.” The reactions followed a Washington Post report on the inner workings of a Justice Department investigation into a possible leak of classified information about North Korea.

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