ABC is one of five news organizations kicking in $750,000 to settle a suit tied to the epsionage investigation of nuclear scientist Weng Ho Lee. In 1999, Lee was accused of giving nuclear secrets to the Chinese government, and he spent nine months in prison awaiting trial. But the charges turned out to be overblown and Lee ultimately pleaded guilty only to a single count of illegally gathering national-security data.
Lee’s suit accused government officials of smearing him with leaks to reporters. The news organizations were not named in the suit, but their reporters were held in contempt and fined $500 a day for not disclosing sources for their stories on the investigation. The companies say they made the payments to end pressure on their reporters.