The BBC must turn over footage from a 2003 documentary on Palestinian leader Yasser Araft, a Washington federal district judge ruled yesterday, rejecting the broadcasting company's arguments that it should be shielded by the First Amendment.
The family of Esther Klieman, a U.S. citizen killed by gunfire in Israel in 2002, subpoenaed the BBC as part of its lawsuit against the Palestinian Authority. Klieman's estate claimed the footage would help tie the group they believed was responsible for the 2002 attack, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, to the Palestinian Authority. The BBC isn't a party to the case.
The BBC argued that it was protected by the qualified reporter's privilege under the First Amendment. U.S. District Senior Judge Paul Friedman sided with the plaintiffs, finding the footage was directly relevant to the plaintiffs' claims and that the plaintiffs didn't have another way to get the information. The judge drew a distinction between the protection of a reporter's confidential source and an interview the subject knew would be publicly broadcast.