Friday, June 02, 2006

Wen Ho Lee case settles on June 2

AP: Wen Ho Lee, the former nuclear weapons scientist once suspected of being a spy, settled his privacy lawsuit June 2, 2006 and will receive $1.6 million from the government and five news organizations in a case that turned into a fight over reporters' confidential sources.

The Associated Press and four other news organizations have agreed to pay Lee $750,000 as part of the settlement, which ends contempt of court proceedings against five reporters who refused to disclose the sources of their stories about the espionage investigation.

Lee said of the settlement: "We are hopeful that the agreements reached today will send the strong message that government officials and journalists must and should act responsibly in discharging their duties and be sensitive to the privacy interests afforded to every citizen of this country."

The payment by AP, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and ABC is the only one of its kind in recent memory, and perhaps ever, legal and media experts said.

The newspapers suggested that the settlement underscores the need for a federal law that would shield reporters from having to disclose their sources.

IPBiz: a shield law to protect sources/reporters of TRUTHFUL information might be useful. There should not be a shield law to protect liars or reporters who transmit lies.

IPBiz: Recall that the Wen Ho Lee matter was brought to us by the Clinton Administration. From Bob Park's WN, 17 Dec. 1999:

It's been ten months since Wen Ho Lee was fired from his job at the weapons lab and publically fingered as the chief suspect in the leak of nuclear weapons information to China. The prime suspect since 1995, Lee was not indicted until this week--and he was not indicted for espionage. He was charged with 59 counts of downloading. He is being held without bail. Mishandling nuclear secrets is a serious offense, carrying a possible life sentence. But there is a slight whiff of something else. The strange case of Richard Jewell and the Olympic bombing in Atlanta immediately comes to mind. The only case against Jewell, it turned out, was that he matched an FBI profile. So, it would appear, does Wen Ho Lee. Others, including CIA Director John Deutch, have downloaded classified information, but they didn't fit the Cox profile.


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