US Reporters sentenced for protecting sources

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

David H. Wilkins, Ambassador to Canada
The Embassy of the United States of America
490 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 1G8

September 26, 2006

Dear Ambassador Wilkins,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is concerned that a U.S. District Court judge has imposed jail sentences against two San Francisco Chronicle investigative reporters Lance Williams' and Mark Fainaru-Wada. The charges stem from the reporters' refusal to reveal their sources of secret grand jury testimony about alleged steroid use by professional athletes. On September 21, 2006, a federal judge stayed the sentence pending the outcome of the two reporters' appeal.

Just one day before, on September 20, 2006, Joshua Wolf, a video freelance video journalist and blogger, was returned to jail after losing his appeal and refusing to turn over to a federal grand jury a videotape of a 2005 San Francisco protest against a Group of Eight economic conference.

CJFE is concerned that the space for free expression in the United States is growing ever smaller. If these two reporters are sent to jail, this would bring the total of imprisoned journalists in the United States to three.

CJFE calls on the government to allow its journalists the right to speak freely, without fear of punishment and to allow them the right to protect their sources, a right which is integral to the freedom of the press. We strongly oppose the imprisonment of journalists in a democratic country, whose constitution guarantees freedom of speech and of the press.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Amber
CJFE President