New York Times reporter James Risen participates in a news conference, at the National Press Club on Aug. 14, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Holder: I won’t send journalists to jail for doing their job

Attorney General Eric Holder reiterated Tuesday that he won’t send journalists to jail for doing their job — suggesting that New York Times reporter James Risen is unlikely to spend time behind bars.

“I stand by what I have said: If a reporter is doing that which he or she does as a reporter, no reporter is going to go to jail as long as I am attorney general,” Holder said in an interview with msnbc, when asked specifically about Risen.

RELATED: Attorney General Eric Holder discusses voting rights with msnbc

Risen, a veteran national security reporter, has been the target of a controversial Justice Department prosecution for reporting leaks of classified information.

During an off-the-record meeting with media representatives to discuss press freedom issues in May, Holder reportedly used a similar formulation.

“As long as I am attorney general, no reporter who is doing his job is going to go to jail,” he said at the time according to an attendee, Politico reported.

Media representatives at the May meeting criticized the Justice Department’s approach to freedom of the press issues, prompting the DOJ to announce new guidelines. The Obama administration has prosecuted more government leakers than all previous presidents combined.

“We decided that perhaps there were some legitimate concerns raised,” Holder told msnbc. “We met with members of the media and revamped the way in which we interact with members of the media.”

In the interview, Holder also discussed voting rights at length, and stood by his decision to attempt to try the 9/11 suspects in civilian court.

Morning Joe, 10/13/14, 6:41 AM ET

James Risen: Money squandered in war on terror

The New York Times’ James Risen joins Morning Joe to discuss his new book “Pay Any Price,” which looks at how billions were stolen or lost during counter terror operations. Risen was also the first to write about the NSA’s secret wiretapping program,…

Eric Holder and Justice Department

Holder: I won't send journalists to jail for doing their job