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'Times' Reporter James Risen Questioned In CIA Leak Case

New York Times reporter James Risen refused to answer any questions that, he said, could be used by the government "as a building block" in its case against a former CIA officer.

At a tense pretrial hearing in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., Risen answered only basic questions about the reporting in his 2006 book State of War, part of which outlines a CIA attempt to undermine Iran's nuclear program. Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer, is set to go on trial next week on charges of leaking information to Risen for his book.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema called today's hearing to determine what Risen would be willing to testify about.

As we've previously reported, Attorney General Eric Holder said last month he will not compel Risen to name his confidential CIA source. In June, Holder said Risen, who risked jail time for his failure to respond to three subpoenas to compel him to disclose his source in the agency, would not be sent to jail for "doing his job."

Politico adds:

"[T] he prosecution did want Risen to testify about some basic facts relating to his reporting for the book and newspaper articles. Risen at first resisted confirming statements he'd made in previous court filings about confidentiality agreements he had with his sources and even whether he'd talked to Sterling for a 2002 article that quoted him by name.

"But after Brinkema called a quick break and reminded Risen that he'd already discussed those points in submissions provided 'under the penalty of perjury,' he returned to court somewhat more cooperative with prosecutors.

"Risen eventually confirmed the accuracy of his prior statements."

The Associated Press reports that after Risen's testimony, Sterling's defense lawyer, Edward MacMahon, said the case against the former CIA officer should be dismissed. He said that without more information from Risen, the government had no case.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.