** Presentation of petition at Justice Department (Constitution Avenue entrance), 10:30 a.m.
** News conference at National Press Club (Murrow Room), 1 p.m.
Addressing one of the most important U.S. press freedom cases in decades, a broad coalition of organizations will present a petition to the Justice Department on Thursday morning and hold an afternoon news conference at the National Press Club.
The activities are challenging efforts by the Obama administration to compel New York Times reporter James Risen to disclose a confidential source.
The petition, with 100,000 signers, is set for presentation to the Justice Department with backing from press freedom groups including the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Government Accountability Project, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Reporters Without Borders, and RootsAction.org.
Representatives of those groups will be joined at the Justice Department for the petition presentation by nine-time Emmy Award winner and Peabody Award recipient Phil Donahue. The media availability begins at 10:30 a.m., with formal presentation of the petition to a Justice Department spokesperson at 11 a.m.
Hours later, the focus will shift to the National Press Club for the 1 p.m. news conference. Along with speakers from the press freedom organizations and Donahue, the news conference will also hear from James Risen.
The Justice Department is now considering whether to attempt to force Risen to testify against one of his alleged sources. If Risen refuses, as he has vowed to, he would likely face harsh fines or imprisonment.
Risen has refused to name a source for information about a bungled CIA operation in Iran that appeared in his book State of War.
This summer a front-page New York Times article called the Risen case “the most serious confrontation between the government and the press in recent history.”