Barack Obama believes reporters should not be prosecuted: White House

Barack ObamaUS President Barack Obama (AP)

US President Barack Obama strongly believes that reporters should not be prosecuted, a presidential spokesman has said, but insisted on protecting classified details that might compromise national security.

"It is the President's view that reporters should not be prosecuted," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday.

"I can't comment on the specifics of any ongoing criminal matter," Carney told reporters. "But if you're asking me whether the president believes that journalists should be prosecuted for doing their jobs, the answer is no."

Carney also refused that Obama would seek from the Justice Department a list of all reporters and news outlets who are being monitored by the federal agencies. "I'm not aware of again, based on publicly available information, that any reporter has been or is being prosecuted. But what I would say is that of course he could not or should not intervene directly in such a hypothetical case," Carney said.

"The President can set policy for his administration and he can have policy discussions with his administration and with Congress, especially if policy considerations require legislation. He has done that and he will do that," he said.

The Obama Administration is under fire after news reports appeared that the Department of Justice seized Associated Press phone records as part of a probe into leaks about a 2012 Yemen-based plot to bomb a US airliner.

Carney said Obama believes that there needs to be adequate provisions in the law that allow for the press to operate freely and that is reflected in his support for the media shield law.

"The President's view is that if you were to ask him should a reporter ever be prosecuted for doing his or her job, the answer in his view is no. "If there were no consequences to divulging highly sensitive classified information, then we might as well not have it. We might as well not have secrets," he said.

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