The attorney general from USA, Merrick garland, on Monday prohibited the use of orders or court summons to force journalists to reveal their sources, with limited exceptions, reversing the politics following revelations of efforts of this nature led by the Donald Trump government.
The Department of Justice will no longer use mandatory legal process to obtain information or records from members of the media related to its news gathering activities, “Garland wrote in a directive to federal prosecutors.
The new rule also applies to diffusion from classified information, He said.
However, there are some exceptions: if the journalist is suspected of having committed an illegal act, for example, insider trading, or has used a prohibited method, such as hacking into protected systems; or if it is to avoid the commission of a serious act, such as kidnappings or attacks.
To ensure that the measure lasts over time, Garland also asked his services to review all regulations related to journalists in order to promote the passage of a law in Congress.
Trump’s Secret War
This directive from the Democratic administration of Joe Biden comes after the revelation of a legal battle waged in secret by the administration of his predecessor Trump to obtain the emails of The New York Times reporters in order to identify their sources.
CNN also reported that the government of the former Republican president had secretly searched for and obtained the telephone and email records of one of his correspondents.
In the United States, leaking confidential information is illegal and federal prosecutors could issue search warrants to trace the source.
Republican and Democratic governments have issued subpoenas against journalists in the past.
After a scandal in 2013, the Democratic administration of Barack Obama created new rules and imposed the need to obtain a green light from senior Justice Department officials for any mandate against journalists, but without giving up the practice.