The arrests appear related to retaliation by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The Phoenix New Times reported that Grand Jury subpoenas were used by Maricopa county to track readers of the Times' stories related to Arpaio, and to scoop up reporter's notes, tapes and publications. The New Times also has had a series of reports on Arpaio's doings in the Phoenix area. Hm.
Apparently the paper is involved in a criminal case for publishing personal contact information about the Sheriff a few years ago. The grand jury subpoenas reek of spying, intimidation, and trampling of the 1st Amendment, so the paper felt obligated to disregard secrecy laws and let the public know about this little facet of life in Phoenix. What is the Press for, right?
Quoting the editor & CEO via a local paper:
“the authorities” probably believe revealing the subpoenas is against the law, “but there are moments when civil disobedience is merely the last option.”
"We're not harboring state secrets, we’re not harboring terrorists, we’re just straight up reporting on issues they don’t want us to report on.”
Read the article here in the East Valley Tribune. I've linked to the Phoenix New Times and recommend reading their articles about the Sheriff and the current tactics Maricopa County is using against the Press.
Welcome to Arizona, everybody!
-->UPDATE 10/19/07 P.M. John Peter Zenger would approve. The Maricopa County Attorney has dropped charges against the Phoenix pressmen and stated publicly that the prosecutors involved in the spurious and insane charges had overstepped their bounds in a major fashion. Quoting from the (Phoenix-area) East Vally Tribune: "Citing “serious missteps” by Dennis Wilenchik that led to the arrests of the paper’s top two executives, Thomas also dumped legal efforts to force New Times editors and reporters to turn over notes, emails and other research related to stories involving county Sheriff Joe Arpaio, as well as information about the alternative newsweekly’s Internet readers. To reiterate, John Peter Zenger would be proud, and is mostly likely SITTING UP in his grave, with his fist raised.