Afrique Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
United States22 May 2006

Reporters Without Borders reacts to a troubling statement made by the U.S. Attorney General

The Honorable Alberto Gonzales, U.S. Attorney General

Dear Judge Gonzales:

Reporters Without Borders, an international press freedom organization, has just learned about your statements according to which journalists who allegedly reveal information considered “classified information” by the Department of Defense could be liable for prosecution by the federal government. By way of example, you cited the case of The New York Times, which recently released details on a government program subjecting thousands of American citizens to wiretapping in the name of national security. Moreover, national security is the argument that you invoked to justify possible legal proceedings against the media.

The position you have taken does not augur well for freedom of the press, already mishandled in several cases concerning information leaks in which journalists-merely because they wished to protect their sources, as their profession demands-were found “in contempt of court.” Your statements immediately followed another worrisome comment by an FBI agent, according to which it had become much easier to subject journalists to wiretapping under the Bush administration.

Are we not entitled to fear for press freedom if some journalists-who, by definition, are not bound to secrecy-can be penalized for performing their professional duties, the free exercise of which is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution ?

We cannot condone the continued existence of this gap in the law, as a result of which 33 states grant journalists the privilege to protect the confidentiality of their sources, when that right is not recognized at the federal level. We particularly regret the attitude of defiance that led to your remarks about the media, whose counterbalancing role is essential to any democracy.

I sincerely hope that this letter will help to shed new light on this debate.

Respectfully yours,

Robert Ménard
General Secretary



In this country
14 May - United States
Arraignment of suspected mastermind of Chauncey Bailey’s murder postponed again
14 May - United States
Obama opposes release of torture photos
6 May - United States
“To combat Internet censorship, companies cannot be left to act on their own”
4 May - United States
Yusuf Bey IV indicted in Chauncey Bailey’s murder
2 May - United States
Reporters Without Borders welcomes President’s statement in honor of World Press Freedom Day

in the annual report
United States - Annual Report 2008
United States - Annual report 2007
United States - Annual report 2006


reports
14 March 2008 - Cuba
No surrender by independent journalists, five years on from “black spring”
5 June 2007 - Venezuela
Closure of Radio Caracas Televisión consolidates media hegemony
22 May 2007 - Colombia
Paramilitary "black eagles" poised to swoop down on press
archives

Americas press releases
3 June - United States
President Obama urged to raise freedom of expression in his Cairo speech
29 May - Venezuela
Open letter to President Hugo Chavez to protest about official hounding of Globovisión
27 May - Mexico
Crime reporter abducted and killed in Durango state
20 May - Cuba
Anyone can browse the Internet... unless they are Cuban
15 May - Cuba
Journalist gets three-year jail sentence

Americas archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Sign the petitions
Cuba
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez
Cuba
Fabio Prieto Llorente
United States
Chauncey Bailey
A petition to Raúl Castro