Writer Gets More Time to Ask Sources For Release

By Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 19, 2005

A federal judge has given Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus more time to ask his confidential sources to let him identify them in court -- but the judge denied Pincus's request to stay the order entirely while he prepared an appeal.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer said yesterday that Pincus may have 10 days to talk with his sources, instead of the 48 hours she originally granted. Collyer has ruled that Pincus must reveal his sources so that former nuclear weapons scientist Wen Ho Lee can continue his lawsuit against the government for allegedly leaking damaging information about him to the press.

Collyer has held Pincus in contempt of court and fined him $500 per day for refusing to testify, but the judge has put the fine on hold to give Pincus time to appeal the contempt citation.

"We are abiding by the court's order," said Pincus's attorney, Kevin Baine.

Pincus has said that he must protect the confidentiality of sources in order to do his job as a reporter on national security affairs.

His attorneys have argued that the courts should recognize a legal privilege to protect reporters from having to identify confidential sources in civil lawsuits brought by private individuals.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company