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Hatfill seeks court order forcing journalists to reveal sources in anthrax case

[JURIST] Former US Army germ-warfare researcher Dr. Steven J. Hatfill [WashPost profile], named a "person of interest" by the FBI [JURIST news archive] in its investigations of anthrax mailings [FBI backgrounder] shortly after the 2001 Sept. 11 attacks [JURIST news archive], has filed a motion to force journalists to reveal their sources after newspapers printed details about the investigation. Hatfill is seeking the information in his lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] against the Justice Department, which Hatfill alleges violated the federal Privacy Act [text] by giving information to the media.

In January, US District Judge Claude M. Hilton of the Eastern District of Virginia granted a motion for dismissal [JURIST report] made by the New York Times in a defamation suit filed against the paper by Hatfill. Hatfill's prior suit against the Times and columnist Nicholas Kristof [NYT profile] was previously dismissed in the trial court, which ruled that the columns dealing with Hatfill were an ongoing report about a government investigation and did not constitute libel. The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed [opinion, PDF] the ruling, holding that a jury should decide that issue. Last year, the Supreme Court refused to grant certiorari [JURIST report] in the case. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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