11/18/2013 08:33 am ET Updated Nov 20, 2013

James Risen To Journalists: 'Surrender Or Fight' Against Government


James Risen, the New York Times reporter ordered to testify against a confidential source, called on journalists to fight back against government's attacks on press freedom.

He currently faces jail time if he refuses to testify against Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent charged with leaking classified information. Risen spoke at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism on Thursday where, according to the Daily Californian, he said it was time for journalists to “surrender or fight.”

Risen — who has spoken out against the government before — said that the war on leaks threatens the integrity of the press and its reporting. “The basic issue is, can we continue as journalists to protect and offer the confidentiality to someone who knows something going on in the government but doesn’t want to go public?” he said.

Sterling is charged with leaking information that appears in Risen's book "State of War." Risen plans to fight the court order to testify in Supreme Court.

On Thursday, Risen said that he went ahead with the book because it was his job as a journalist. “I thought, I either publish these stories or I’m getting out of journalism,” he recounted.

(h/t Daily Californian)

CORRECTION: This article originally said Risen told audience members that journalism has become "more of a guerrilla war" due to government intrusion. It was actually Lowell Bergman, director of the graduate school’s Investigative Reporting Program, who said this.



BBC Crisis