Freelancers Fight Army Subpoenas to Testify in Court-Martial

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Two freelance journalists are fighting subpoenas by the Army to testify at a court-martial proceeding against a soldier who refused to go to Iraq.

The Army ordered Sarah Olson and Dahr Jamail to testify Jan. 4 against 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is charged with missing troop movement and four counts of conduct unbecoming of an officer.

The conduct charges stem from interviews Watada gave to Olson and other reporters in which he criticized the Bush administration and the Iraq war. Jamail covered an August anti-war rally where Watada spoke. The Army wants the reporters to testify in order to verify the statements attributed to Watada in their stories.

The reporters claim the subpoenas threaten press freedoms.

“Testifying against my source would turn the press into an investigative tool of the government and chill dissenting voices in the United States,” Olson said in a statement.

Olson said she will appear at the hearing but will object to testifying. Jamail’s attorney, Dan Siegel, would not say whether his client would appear in court.

Watada, 28, of Honolulu, has said he believes the war is illegal. He refused to deploy to Iraq on June 22 with the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, based at Fort Lewis, Wash.

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