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Media & Communications Law

Media Shields Anthrax Sources

Posted Jul 5, 2007 11:08 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Lawyers for a former Army scientist who says he was improperly named in connection with an anthrax investigation pressed to learn the source of the leak at a hearing on Tuesday.

Lawyers for Steven Hatfill said he had met a two-pronged test to compel reporters to reveal their anonymous sources, the Washington Post reports. Lawyer Charles Thomas Kimmett Jr. said Hatfill has shown he needs the names to prevail, and that he has exhausted reasonable alternatives to learn them.

Hatfill contends the Justice Department violated the federal Privacy Act by giving reporters information about the FBI investigation of him. Hatfill, who worked at an infectious diseases laboratory, was named as a person of interest but was never charged.

A lawyer for the media defendants argued the First Amendment requires more than a two-pronged test.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton of Washington, D.C., will hear more arguments next week before issuing a ruling.

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