The Justice Department has ruled out forcing New York Times reporter James Risen to divulge his source in the upcoming trial of a former CIA officer accused of leaking classified information, a person familiar with the matter said Friday night.
The decision comes ahead of a Tuesday court hearing at which Justice Department prosecutors were directed to reveal whether they planned to seek Risen’s testimony. It also resolves a standoff between Risen and the government that threatened to end with him being held in contempt of court.
The person briefed on the matter spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the decision had not yet been formally announced. The source said it was still possible the Justice Department would seek testimony from Risen, but not about his source.
Prosecutors allege that Jeffrey Sterling disclosed to Risen classified information about operations in Iran. They have said that Risen’s testimony is integral to their case.
In a motion filed last month, they said they had no deal in place with Risen and that his lawyers had said that, even if subpoenaed, he would refuse to provide any substantive testimony at the trial.
The trial has long been delayed while lawyers have debated whether Risen enjoys any kind of immunity from being compelled to testify about his interactions with anonymous sources.
In June, the Supreme Court let stand a ruling from a federal appellate court that Risen could be subpoenaed.