[Ppnews] Journalist Victory over Army in Watada court-martial

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 30 08:50:19 EST 2007


From: Sarah Olson <solson75 at yahoo.com>


Hi all:
Late this afternoon, Lt. Watada stipulated that he had
made all the statements attributed to him in the 4
"conduct unbecoming" charges. In exchange, the Army
dropped the two charges involving statements Lt.
Watada made to individual reporters.

Here is the statement I released earlier this evening,
regarding this development. Please don't hesitate to
call or email with questions. I believe this is a
great victory for the most basic understanding of
press freedoms.

Sarah Olson
415 298 5573

SARAH OLSON:
This is obviously a great victory for the principles
of a free press that are so essential to this nation.
Personally, I am pleased that the Army no longer seeks
my participation in their prosecution of Lieutenant
Watada. Far more importantly, this should be seen as a
victory for the rights of journalists in the U.S. to
gather and disseminate news free from government
intervention, and for the rights of individuals to
express personal, political opinions to journalists
without fear of retribution or censure. I am glad the
growing number of dissenting voices within the
military will retain their rights to speak with
reporters. But I note with concern that Lt. Watada
still faces prosecution for exercising his First
Amendment rights during public presentations. However,
the preservation of these rights clearly requires
vigilance. Journalists are subpoenaed with an alarming
frequency, and when they do not cooperate they are
sometimes imprisoned. Videographer Josh Wolf has
languished in federal prison for over 160 days, after
refusing to give federal grand jury investigators his
unpublished video out takes. It is clear that we must
continue to demand that the separation between press
and government be strong, and that the press be a
platform for all perspectives, regardless of their
popularity with the current administration.

DAVID GREENE, FIRST AMENDMENT PROJECT:
"This is a tremendous victory for both Sarah and for
every journalist
who fears being dragged into the middle of a dispute
between a source
and the government.  We are pleased that the Army and
Watada have
been able to reach an agreement that removes the
necessity for Sarah
to testify."

JOHN STAUBER, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY:
"This appears a great victory for journalist Sarah
Olson and our Defend the Press coalition," said John
Stauber, executive director of the Center for Media
and Democracy of Madison, Wisconsin. "This is a
testament to what one determined and courageous
reporter, Sarah Olson, can accomplish in the face of
government intimidation. These subpoenas were simply
an effort to harass journalists who are reporting on
the growing anti-war sentiment among rank and file
soldiers. This is a blow for press freedom and for
free speech."


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