WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- A group that gives free legal support to journalists has asked a judge to allow it to file an amicus brief in a criminal leak case against two lobbyists.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says that the broad way prosecution of the two interprets the espionage statute would have "negative consequences for journalism."
Stephen Rosen and Keith Weissman -- former staff members of the Pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC -- are charged under the espionage act.
According to the indictment, they received classified information from a Pentagon official and sought to publicize it -- both by disclosing it to reporters and discussing it with Israeli embassy officials.
The group says it "does not take a position as to whether the law can be applied to the two lobbyists, who allegedly disclosed the information to foreign government officials; instead, it asked the court to allow it to address the issue of how the application of this law could affect journalists and the public's right to know about the workings of its government."
The group adds that the WWI-era law has apparently never been used against a journalist, but says the case against the two lobbyists "is an indication that federal officials intend to expand the scope of those prosecuted under the law."