“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.
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.”