'AIPAC case hampers freedom of press'

Group claims law would have negative consequences for journalism.

By NATHAN GUTTMAN
October 15, 2005 23:52
1 minute read.
AIPAC logo 88

AIPAC logo 88. (photo credit: )

 
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An organization for journalists' rights is attempting to file a brief in the AIPAC case, claiming that the case can be used in the future to target reporters and would hamper their ability to get information from sources. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, an advocacy group working for free press and providing legal assistance to journalists, has written to judge T.S. Ellis of the US District court in Virginia, in request to file a “amicus brief” in the case of two former AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) lobbyists accused of communicating classified information. In its request, the group claims that the broad use of the espionage law against the lobbyists Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman would have negative consequences for journalism. “While the government certainly has a legitimate interest in keeping national security information out of the wrong hands, an overly aggressive approach that interferes with the flow of information to the public and its ability to hold its government accountable can undermine the democratic principles we all seek to defend,” the letter said. The committee goes on to claim that if the espionage law is used against lobbyists, it is also possible that the prosecution will use it against journalists that are trying to get information from government sources as part of their daily work. The court has not yet given its response to the request of the committee to file the brief. Amicus briefs are usually filed only at the appeals court, but in certain cases may be allowed also in the initial trial stage. These briefs are filed by government or non-governments groups and individuals that feel the ruling in the case may influence them in the future or that would like to provide the court with their input even though they are not a side in court.

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