Two gains for press freedom
In two press-vs.-government confrontations, the press appears to have won, Monitor correspondent Robert M. Press reports. All charges against Albany (Ga.) State Herald reporter Charles Postell have been dropped. He was accused of having helped engineer the escape of several Georgia death-row inmates last summer. The state dropped the charges after a key witness, a death-row inmate, was linked to an attempt to extort $15,000 from Mr. Postell in return for favorable testimony. Mr. Postell plans to file suit against the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for seizing personal letters from his home after the escapes.
The Justice Department has issued new rules requiring the attorney general's authorization, in most cases, to seize journalists' long-distance telephone records. The change came after a decision earlier this year by a lower-level official to authorize seizure of telephone records of reporters in the New York Times Atlanta bureau to find who in the Justice Department leaked information -- apparently a report critical of the FBI's use of a Ku Klux Klan informant involved in violent attacks on blacks.