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Another day, another journalist (or two) jailed

Two senior journalists have been arrested for leaking information about a criminal investigation into the alleged unlawful publication of a government official’s home address.

Zimbabwe? South Africa?

United States, actually.

Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey of the Phoenix New Times were jailed last week when they revealed that they had been subpoenaed by a grand jury to provide information about the browsing habits of readers of the New Times‘s website (read the full story in Slate).

Disclosure of any grand-jury proceeding is a crime. The grand-jury investigation comes after criminal charges were laid against the New Times for publishing the home address of the country sheriff, who is accused of abuse of power and involvement in corrupt property deals.

Publishing a sheriff’s home address on the web is apparently a crime in Arizona (but not pubishining it in print). In addition to demanding access to browsing data, the grand jury also subpoenaed all records, notes, documents, emails and other files related to the New Times’s coverage of the sheriff, who appears to be a thoroughly unpleasant character.

The two journalists were released and charges dropped after a (predictable) public outcry.

Take heart, Mondli. You are not alone!