VIENNA, 29 June 2005 - Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, has expressed concern over the cases of reporters Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine who have been sentenced to imprisonment for contempt of court for refusing to testify about conversations with confidential sources.
On 27 June the US Supreme Court declined to hear the cases.
The OSCE Representative sent a letter yesterday to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, asking him to consider dropping the subpoena against Miller and Cooper.
"My concern is with the role of the prosecution in bringing these two cases to trial. While no so-called shield law, allowing journalists to protect their sources, exists at the federal level, the majority of states have them and the U.S .Congress is considering action on this matter," said Haraszti.
The OSCE Representative referred to a joint declaration by the UN, OSCE and the Organization of American States which says that the sole responsibility for protecting the confidentiality of legitimately secret information lies with the public authorities and their staff whose official job is to hold that information.
"A journalist's right to freely access information and deal with sources in confidence is paramount for free reporting and discussion of public issues," Haraszti said.