WASHINGTON, June 2 (UPI) -- Five news organizations have agreed to contribute to a U.S. government settlement with scientist Wen Ho Lee to spare their reporters fines for contempt.
Lee, a former nuclear scientist at Los Alamos who was jailed for months on suspicion of espionage, sued for invasion of privacy, claiming that the government leaked information to reporters. While news organizations were not defendants in the lawsuit, their reporters faced fines of $500 a day if they refused to turn over notes, reported The New York Times, one of the five news organizations.
The group -- which includes The Walt Disney Co.'s ABC News; The Tribune Company's Los Angeles Times; and The Washington Post -- agreed to pay a total of $750,000.
The balance of the $1.64 million settlement, paid by the government, is to go to Lee's legal fees. One of his lawyers said the Justice Department did not want any government money to go directly to Lee.
"The journalists found themselves between a rock and a hard place after years of seeking relief from the courts and finding none," said Henry Hoberman, a senior vice president at ABC.