[JURIST] A Providence television reporter, Jim Taricani of NBC'sw WJAR-TV, was convicted of criminal contempt Thursday for refusing to reveal a source who gave him an FBI videotape showing a city official taking a bribe. Taricani, who faces up to six months in prison, broke no laws by repeatedly airing the tape, but a special prosecutor was appointed to find the leak after a court order which prevented any dissemination of tapes connected with a federal corruption probe into the former mayor of Providence. US District Judge Ernest Torres indicated the leak was meant to disrupt the investigation and deprive the defendants of a fair trial. Judge Torres had found Taricani in civil contempt for refusing to reveal the source and imposed a $1,000-a-day fine until he did. WJAR paid the $85,000 fine for its reporter until Judge Torres suspended the fine two weeks ago. Taricani would be the first reporter to serve time for a criminal contempt charge related to his reporting duties. Tarsini has issued this statement, available on the WJAR website. WJAR has issued its own statement defending its reporter's behavior:
Jim Taricani, a respected journalist and heart-transplant recipient, should not be treated as a criminal for doing his job. NBC 10 has stood by him and supports his decision to not to disclose his source. No reporter should have to pay such a terribly high price for honestly and legally reporting the news.The full statement is available here. AP has more.