Freedom of the Press a Key Issue in Trial of Former CIA Officer Jeffrey Sterling

Posted Jan. 14, 2015

MP3 Interview with Marcy Wheeler, investigative journalist with ExposeFacts, conducted by Scott Harris


In the aftermath of a series of brutal terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of 17, including eight journalists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, police officers and hostages at a kosher food market, more than three million people marched in Paris in solidarity with the victims and in support of freedom of the press. Forty heads of state also joined the march, but as many critics pointed out, some of the nations they represented, such as Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Russia and Israel, have poor records when it comes to press freedom at home. The U.S., criticized by some for not sending a high-level representative to participate in the Paris march, also has a flawed record on freedom of the press.

During six years of the Obama administration, the number of whistleblower investigations under the 1917 Espionage Act is more than double the number of those conducted in all previous presidential administrations combined. For more than six years, New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter and author James Risen has been the target of federal prosecutors for his refusal to disclose his sources. The Department of Justice had ordered Risen to testify against one of his alleged sources, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who it is believed provided the journalist with confidential information regarding a failed CIA operation to sabotage Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which was published in his 2006 book, "State of War." Risen has refused to cooperate with prosecutors and identify his source, risking imprisonment. However, the day before Jeffery Sterling’s trial began on Jan. 13, the Justice Department said it would not call Risen to testify, effectively taking the threat of prison off the table.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Marcy Wheeler, an investigative journalist with ExposeFacts, who discusses what’s at stake in the trial of former CIA officer Sterling and the larger issue of the government's prosecution of whistleblowers - as well as the consequences for journalism and the public's right to know.

Learn more about the campaign to end the government prosecution of whistleblowers and journalists by visiting

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