06/03/2014 08:31 am ET Updated Jun 03, 2014

Petition Demands That Obama And Holder Halt Legal Action Against James Risen


A new petition is calling on President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to drop the government's legal efforts to get New York Times reporter James Risen to testify in a leak investigation and reveal one of his confidential sources.

Risen has been battling the Justice Department, which is demanding that he reveal whether or not former CIA analyst Jeffrey Sterling leaked classified information to him. On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected Risen's legal challenge to the DOJ, leaving him potentially facing jail time if he winds up refusing an actual summons to testify.

The DOJ has hinted that it may not ultimately call Risen in the Sterling case, but has made no definitive pronouncement.

The petition, which was sponsored by watchdog groups like Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, currently has nearly 60,000 signatures. It is topped by a statement from whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, who says, "The pursuit of Risen is a warning to potential sources that journalists cannot promise them confidentiality for disclosing Executive Branch criminality, recklessness, deception, unconstitutional policies or lying us into war."

The petition calls on the government to "halt all legal action against Mr. Risen and to safeguard the freedom of journalists to maintain the confidentiality of their sources."