Television

Five news organizations and US government settle privacy suit

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MUMBAI: Can a journalist be forced to reveal his sources? A journalist holds the right to refuse to reveal his source, but in this connection he should be willing to face a trail. A court battle, which featured news organisations and the US government, and its climax have proved that protecting the source can be a costly affair.

Five news organisations namely ABC News, The Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Washington Post has agreed to join forces with the US government towards the settlement on invasion of privacy with the former scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Wen Ho Lee who was falsely accused of being a Chinese spy.

The US government is paying $1,645,000 and the five news organizations are paying $750,000 to avoid contempt sanctions against their reporters, who refused to disclose the sources of their stories about the espionage investigation. 

The reporters of the five media organisations were not named in the suit as defendants, but had been held in contempt by the court for refusing to testify and had been ordered to pay fines of $500 per day for refusing to name their sources.

Lee brought his case against the government and the five news media organisation in 1999,when the federal investigators accused him of giving nuclear secrets to China. He spent nine months in solitary confinement awaiting trial.

Lee contended that the government had violated privacy laws by telling reporters about his employment history, finances, travels and polygraph tests.

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