NATIONAL NEWS

Judge holds veteran journalist Catherine Herridge in civil contempt for refusing to divulge source

Feb 29, 2024, 3:35 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge held veteran investigative reporter Catherine Herridge in civil contempt on Thursday for refusing to divulge her source for a series of stories during her time at Fox News about a Chinese American scientist who was investigated by the FBI but never charged.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper in Washington imposed a fine of $800 dollars per day until Herridge complies, but the fine will not go into effect immediately to give her time to appeal.

A lawyer for Herridge, Patrick Philbin, declined to comment.

The source is being sought by Yanpin Chen, who has sued the government over the leak of details about the federal probe into statements she made on immigration forms related to work on a Chinese astronaut program.

Herridge, who was recently laid off by CBS News, published an investigative series for Fox News in 2017 that examined Chen’s ties to the Chinese military and raised questions about whether the scientist was using a professional school she founded in Virginia to help the Chinese government get information about American servicemembers.

The stories relied on what her lawyers contend were items leaked from the probe, including snippets of an FBI document summarizing an interview conducted during the investigation, personal photographs, and information taken from her immigration and naturalization forms and from an internal FBI PowerPoint presentation.

Chen sued the FBI and Justice Department in 2018, saying her personal information was selectively leaked to “smear her reputation and damage her livelihood.”

The judge had ordered Herridge in August to answer questions about her source or sources in a deposition with Chen’s lawyers. The judge ruled that Chen’s need to know for the sake of her lawsuit overcomes Herridge’s right to shield her source, despite the “vital importance of a free press and the critical role” that confidential sources play in journalists’ work.

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Judge holds veteran journalist Catherine Herridge in civil contempt for refusing to divulge source