(AP) Wen Ho Lee, the former nuclear weapons scientist once suspected of being a spy, settled his privacy lawsuit Friday and will receive $1.6 million from the U.S. government and five news organizations in a case that turned into a fight over reporters' confidential sources.
Lee, a Taiwanese-American, will receive $895,000 from the government for legal fees and associated taxes in the 6 1/2-year-old lawsuit in which he accused the Energy and Justice departments of violating his privacy rights by leaking information that he was under investigation as a spy for China.
The Associated Press and four other news organizations have agreed to pay Lee $750,000 as part of the settlement, which ends contempt of court proceedings against five reporters who refused to disclose the sources of their stories about the espionage investigation.
The payment by AP, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and ABC is the only one of its kind in recent memory, and perhaps ever, legal and media experts said.
Freedom of press can never be construed as freedom to libel, and one ongoing feature of this case has been a tendency of the press to go along with whatever right-wing crap came out.
This just follows in the wake of similar suits by Richard Jewell and Gary Condit.
The damages ought to include that news orgs that libel people or report slanders of people as fact should be forced to devote twice as much space, on their front pages or equivalents, to reporting about successful libel suits against them.