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State Department: Prosecuting journalists is not harassment

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,State Department,First Amendment,Media,Jen Psaki

Prosecutions of journalists who refuse to disclose their sources for national security-related stories do not qualify as harassment, according to a State Department spokesperson.

"Individuals are required to testify in court cases all the time," Jen Psaki said during Monday's press briefing. "There is an enormous difference between when we're talking about an individual revealing classified information and what we're seeing happening around the world."

The exchange was a follow-up from Friday, when Psaki celebrated World Press Freedom Day. "We will highlight emblematic cases of imperiled reporters and media outlets that have been targeted, oppressed, imprisoned or otherwise harassed because of their professional work," she said of the coming State Department initiative.

When Psaki was asked about the case of New York Times reporter James Risen "who was ordered in July to testify in the trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency official accused of leaking information to him," Psaki replied Risen was not charged "for simply exercising [his] ability to tell a story."

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