The Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday it was "alarmed" by reports that the Justice Department was investigating a Fox News reporter as a co-conspirator in the leak of classified info because he sought that information from a source.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that an FBI agent had characterized Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen as such as it built a case against a State Department arms expert accused of leaking info to Rosen about intelligence on a North Korean nuclear test.
The Justice Department seized some of Rosen's emails and phone records -- as it did with records of AP journalists in another leak investigation. But in the AP case, attorney general Eric Holder suggested Justice should only be pursuing leakers as law-breakers, not the journalists who secured the info.
The CPJ said that the characterization of Rosen as an "abettor and/or co-conspirator" appeared to be just such a targeting of journalists.
"U.S. government efforts to prosecute leakers by obtaining information from journalists has a chilling effect domestically and sends a terrible message to journalists around the world who are fighting to resist government intrusion," said CPJ executive director Joel Simon.
CPJ is more known for its monitoring of suppression and persecution of journalists abroad, but it also monitors the home front and has been busier than it would like to be on that front lately. Also on Tuesday, the CPJ board sent a letter to Holder protesting the AP records seizure. "We urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that the press is able to carry out its critical function without further unnecessary government intrusion," the board said.