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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Judge Rules Journalists Subject to Classification Law Like Everybody Else

It's escaped notice in the mainstream media thus far but that is not likely to last much longer, now that Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists has highlighted it in his email newsletter:

"'Persons who have unauthorized possession, who come into unauthorized possession of classified information, must abide by the law,' said Judge T.S. Ellis III. 'That applies to academics, lawyers, journalists, professors, whatever.'

"Judge Ellis's statement came at the conclusion of a sentencing hearing for Lawrence Franklin, the former Pentagon analyst who was charged along with two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) with felony violations of theEspionage Act.

"The extraordinary claim that mere possession of classified information triggers legal obligations leads to absurd conclusions, particularly since anyone who reads the daily newspaper comes into 'unauthorized possession of classified information.'"

Go here for the Justice Department news release on Franklin's sentencing. Go here for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency's story on the Ellis decision.