Magazine article Editor & Publisher

What Happened in Vegas May Not Stay There: Paper Gets Federal Order to Divulge Names of Web Commenters

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

What Happened in Vegas May Not Stay There: Paper Gets Federal Order to Divulge Names of Web Commenters

Article excerpt

A Las Vegas newspaper says it has been served a federal grand jury subpoena seeking information about readers who posted comments on the paper's Web site.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Tuesday that its editor, Thomas Mitchell, plans to fight the request, which the newspaper received after reporting on a federal tax fraud case against business owner Robert Kahre.

The subpoena seeks the identities and personal information about people who posted comments on the story. The newspaper said prosecutors told the judge in the case that some comments hinted at acts of violence and the subpoena was issued out of concern for jurors' safety.

Mitchell said anonymous speech is "a fundamental and historic part of this country." The newspaper would consider cooperating if specific crimes or real threats were presented, he said.

The newspaper said the subpoena bears the name of U.S. Assistant District Attorney J. Gregory Damm, a lawyer on the Justice Department team that is prosecuting Kahre and others on charges including income tax evasion, fraud and criminal conspiracy.

Grand jury proceedings are secret, and the subpoena is not a public record.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney for Nevada declined to comment.

The newspaper said it received the subpoena June 2, a week after its story describing the government's case against Kahre, a Las Vegas construction company executive accused of paying contractors with gold and silver U.S. coins based on the precious metal value of the coins but using the much lower face value of the coins for tax purposes. …

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