The United States never losing an opportunity to criticise others for the lack of press freedom, are now facing an attempt to abolish it at home.
In a high-stakes battle over press freedom, writes the AP, two U.S. reporters face jail, possibly as early as Wednesday, for refusing to divulge their sources to a prosecutor investigating the Bush administration's leak of a CIA officer's identity.
"Journalists are not entitled to promise complete confidentiality - no one in America is," Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald told a judge.
Fitzgerald said the reporters might decide to talk if they were sent to prison.
The prosecutor filed court papers saying the source who talked with Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times has waived confidentiality, giving the reporters permission to reveal where they got their information. Patrick Fitzgerald is investigating who in the Bush administration leaked agent Valerie Plame's name in 2003, during a row over evidence used to justify war in Iraq.
The prosecutor did not identify the reporters' source, nor did he specify whether the source of each reporter was the same person.
"Journalists are not entitled to promise complete confidentiality - no-one in America is," Fitzgerald was quoted as saying by BBC.
According to BBC, the reporters face up to 120 days in prison for contempt of court.
Correspondents say the case is one of the most serious legal clashes between the media and government for decades.
Freedom of the press is guaranteed in the United States under the First Amendment of the Constitution. In a landmark decision in 1972, however, the Supreme Court said a Kentucky reporter must disclose confidential sources for stories he wrote on drug dealing.
U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan held the reporters in civil contempt of court in October, rejecting their argument that the First Amendment shielded them from revealing their sources. Hogan was conducting a hearing on the matter Wednesday, at which time he could order the reporters jailed.
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