News Release

Journalists Sought for Testimony in Military Hearing

The U.S. Army is attempting to compel testimony from journalists for the prosecution of 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.

Independent journalist Sarah Olson has been subpoenaed to testify at a Jan. 4 pre-trial hearing and a February court-martial about her May 2006 interview with Lieutenant Watada. Independent journalist Dahr Jamail is also on the prosecution’s witness list to discuss his reporting on a speech given by Lieutenant Watada at an August 2006 convention. Information on their positions is available at Free Press Working Group.

Watada is charged with one count of missing troop movement and four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. Each of the four conduct charges relates to statements Watada made to the press. If convicted, Watada could spend up to four years in prison for his political statements.

The following are available for interviews:

SARAH OLSON
DAVID GREENE
Olson is an independent journalist and radio producer who has covered Iraq war veterans since 2003. She interviewed Lieutenant Watada in May regarding his decision to refuse to deploy to Iraq. She just wrote the piece “Why I Object to Testifying Against Lt. Watada” for Editor & Publisher.

She said today: “I object to the Army’s attempts to force my participation in their prosecution of political speech. This subpoena threatens to turn journalists into government investigators, erodes press neutrality, and ironically asks a journalist to build a case against press freedom and the First Amendment. These actions would have a profound chilling effect on dissenting voices in the United States.” Her interview with Watada, “First Officer Announces Refusal to Deploy to Iraq,” is available at truthout.org.

DAHR JAMAIL
DAN SIEGEL
Jamail is an independent journalist who included a speech given by Watada, at a convention in August 2006, in a news commentary posted on the Internet. Portions of the speech are being used by the prosecution to charge Watada with conduct unbecoming of an officer.

Jamail, who reported from Iraq for more than eight months, is on the witness list of the prosecution and may be called to testify as part of the prosecution. Jamail said today: “Forcing journalists to testify against their sources in a military court threatens to silence public dissent and fair press coverage. A free and fair press is the lifeblood of democracy. Without the ability of the press to adequately report dissenting perspectives on the occupation of Iraq, it is reduced to transcribing government and military press releases.”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167