Tuesday, June 16, 2009
SAN DIEGO A San Diego Union-Tribune reporter must testify in the court-martial of a Marine accused of disobeying orders by giving him an interview, a military judge ruled.
Rick Rogers must obey a subpoena because his testimony is crucial to the defense of Pvt. Gary Maziarz, the information he could provide is not confidential and it cannot be obtained any other way, military judge Cmdr. Kevin O'Neil stated in a 12-page ruling released Monday.
Rogers contended that his First Amendment rights and California's shield law protecting reporters from having to divulge sources took precedent over the subpoena requiring him to take the stand.
The judge, however, said he ruled on the basis of that shield law, which contains certain exceptions.
The ruling applied to a narrow issue of when and why Maziarz decided to talk to the reporter, said Guylyn Cummins, the lawyer for the paper.
The newspaper was disappointed by the ruling and is weighing its next step, Union-Tribune Editor Karin Winner said.
Maziarz and several other Marines were accused of passing classified intelligence to a Los Angeles County sheriff's detective and others. In 2007 he pleaded guilty to mishandling classified material and theft of government property. He was reduced from the rank of gunnery sergeant and sentenced to the brig.
Following his release last year, he gave Rogers an interview that was published in November.
He was charged with willfully disobeying a direct order forbidding him from discussing his role in the passing of intelligence. Maziarz denied he was ordered to stay away from the media and said the interview was approved by his Marine-appointed lawyer at the time.
Two other Marines were charged with military crimes involving the sharing of documents in 2003 and 2004 with Larry Richards, a Los Angeles County sheriff's detective who was a colonel in the Marine reserves.
The Union-Tribune reported last year that the material included anti-terrorism surveillance files on Southern California Muslim religious sites.
On Thursday, Gunnery Sgt. Eric Froboese pleaded guilty to disobeying a lawful order, dereliction of duty and conspiracy for passing files to the detective.
Master Sgt. Reinaldo Pagan has been charged with dereliction of duty, making a false official statement and possession of a stolen machine gun in the case.