10:37, August 06 56 0 theguardian.com

2017-08-06 10:37:03
Sessions deputy: justice department is 'after leakers, not journalists'

One of the top officials at the US justice department said on Sunday that the agency’s heightened focus on policing leaks of classified information is not intended to put journalists in legal jeopardy.

Speaking to Fox News Sunday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein emphasized that the department’s renewed effort to prosecute leaks of classified information was not aimed at the news media.

“We’re after the leakers, not the journalists,” he said. “We don’t prosecute journalists for doing their jobs.“

Rosenstein would not rule out charging journalists altogether, saying reporters could face charges if they deliberately violated the law.

“Generally speaking, reporters who publish information are not committing a crime but there might be a circumstance in which they do,” he said. “I wouldn’t rule it out if there were a case where the reporter was purposefully violating the law.”

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Jeff Sessions: 'This culture of leaking must stop' – video

On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that his department was tripling the number of investigations into leaks of classified information. President Donald Trump has been fiercely critical of the high number of leaks coming from the federal government since he took office.

Rosenstein said the justice department has experienced a “surge” of referrals pertaining to leaks of government information. He also said the department would pursue charges against “anybody who breaks the law” leaking information, including members of Congress and top White House officials.