WASHINGTON - January 2 - 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: http://www.freepresswg.org
Watada is charged with one count of missing troop movement and four
counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. Each of the four conduct
charges relate 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, firstname.lastname@example.org
DAVID GREENE, (Olson's attorney), email@example.com
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. See:
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: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/060706A.shtml
DAHR JAMAIL, firstname.lastname@example.org
DAN SIEGEL, (Jamail's attorney), email@example.com http://www.dahrjamailiraq.com/hard_news/archives/newscommentary/000453.php
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."