Federal prosecutors in the Hollywood wiretaps case said Monday they have authorized two New York Times reporters to discuss their conversations as part of a government inquiry into who leaked court-protected information to the newspaper.
The government probe began last spring after the New York Times printed the first of several articles that quoted sealed FBI interview reports in the case. U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer issued a protective order to prevent the release of evidence compiled by the government against private investigator Anthony Pellicano and other co-defendants, who are charged in an elaborate wiretapping scheme.
Fisher agreed last month to review the government’s inquiry into the leaks after defense attorneys complained the disclosure of the confidential documents and audio recordings hurt their clients’ right to a fair trial.
In Monday’s filing, assistant U.S. attorneys Daniel Saunders and Kevin Lally said they have executed “source waivers” releasing the two reporters from any claim of privilege and asked that all parties, including defense attorneys, be required to either sign similar documents or explain to the court why they declined.
An after-hours call Monday night to a New York Times spokeswoman was not immediately returned. The newspaper had previously said it was important for reporters to be able to protect their confidential sources of information.
Pellicano and attorney Terry Christensen are named in a 112-count indictment that alleges the private eye illegally wiretapped the phones of Hollywood stars such as Sylvester Stallone and bribed police officers to run the names of more than 60 people, including comedians Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon, through government databases.
Both men have pleaded not guilty.
Christensen represented billionaire Kirk Kerkorian in a child-support battle with his ex-wife. Kerkorian does not face any charges in the case.
Fourteen people have been charged in the case, with seven pleading guilty. One person has been acquitted but has since had new charges filed against her.