From New England First Amendment Coalition: PROVIDENCE, R.I. - James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who's done ground-breaking work on domestic spying and now faces legal peril for refusing to disclose the source for his account of a failed CIA operation in Iran, will receive the 2014 Stephen Hamblett Award from the New England First Amendment Coalition.
An investigative reporter for The New York Times, Risen was told by a divided 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to identify his source and testify in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who's charged with leaking classified information to Risen in violation of the Espionage Act, a dusty law cited with new frequency by the administration in efforts to crack down on leakers. Risen, despite the threat of imprisonment, has refused.
"James Risen is not just one of the best investigative reporters in the country. He is a journalist of enormous principle and courage, so committed to the public's right to know that he is willing to sacrifice his own freedom in defense of the freedoms that make it possible for all journalists to hold government officials and institutions accountable,'' said Walter V. Robinson, chairman of the New England First Amendment Coalition committee that recommended Risen for the Hamblett award.
Robinson, now a distinguished professor of journalism at Northeastern University, led The Boston Globe Spotlight Team that won the 2003 Pulitzer for public service for exposing the Roman Catholic Church clergy sexual abuse scandal.
He was part of The Times team that won a Pulitzer in 2002 for explanatory reporting for coverage of the Sept.11 attacks and terrorism. He shared the 2006 prize in national reporting with Times reporter Eric Lichtblau for revealing President Bush's legally questionable domestic wiretapping program.
Risen is the fourth recipient of the Hamblett award, named for the late publisher and chief executive of The Providence Journal. Earlier recipients were retired New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis, who died March 25; Martin Baron, former editor of The Boston Globe and now executive editor of The Washington Post; and Philip Balboni, GlobalPost CEO and co-founder and the architect of cable news channel NECN.
The awards luncheon will be held Feb. 7 in conjunction with the winter conference of the New England Newspaper and Press Association.
Visit New England First Amendment Coalition at their new website for more.
The New England First Amendment Coalition is a member of NFOIC. --eds