Home Media Oscar Winning “Hurt Locker” Screenwriter Mark Boal Files Suit Against US Government

Mark Boal, Oscar winning screenwriter of “The Hurt Locker” and screen writer of “Zero Dark Thirty” has filed suit against the US government. The government wants Boal’s taped interviews in the Bowe Bergdahl case. Boal used them for his award winning pieces on NPR.

here’s the press release–

Mark Boal filed a suit in a Los Angeles federal court against President Barack Obama, Department of Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, Army court-martial convening authority General Robert Abrams and U.S Army Prosecutor Major Justin Oshana in response to Oshana’s threat to subpoena Boal’s taped interviews with accused Army deserter and prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl, who is facing a general court-martial.

Boal, through his lawyer Jean-Paul Jassy of Jassy Vick Carolan LLP, filed Boal v Obama Wednesday, July 20 in an effort to prevent the nearly unprecedented move by the military prosecutor in the Bergdahl case to force a private citizen into military court to relinquish legally protected materials for an ongoing military trial.

Boal has been a journalist for 20 years and is an Oscar winning filmmaker of “Zero Dark Thirty,” and Best Picture winner “The Hurt Locker,” the latter which of which drew upon his experiences as an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003. The Tommy Lee Jones starring film “In the Valley of Elah” was based on Boal’s 2001 investigative reportage.

As stated in the filing: The threatened Subpoena from the North Carolina-based military prosecutor against a civilian is unlawful and inconsistent with the First Amendment, the common law, Department of Justice guidelines for the issuance of subpoenas to reporters and state protections for reporters.

“Mark Boal fully supports the military justice system and believes that Bergdahl has to face the music in a fair judicial process,” says Jassy. “But Boal is a civilian and a journalist, and under the First Amendment, he should not be hauled into a military court to divulge his unpublished and confidential materials. We are asking the federal court in Los Angeles to protect Mark Boal’s constitutional rights.”

Boal’s taped confidential interviews with Bergdahl are protected under the First Amendment. Many of Bergdahl’s revelations made during his 25 hours of interviews were made public–with his express and legal consent–by way of the multi-part “Serial” podcast earlier this year.

States Boal: “I support the Army, but this particular military prosecutor’s tactics contradict and undermine the stated principles and policies of the Commander and Chief and the Attorney General to protect First Amendment rights. It’s Orwellian, and bizarre.”

Boal’s litigation has drawn the support of one of the most respected journalism advocacy groups in the country, the Washington, DC-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

“We firmly stand with Mr. Boal in his effort to protect these tapes,” says the organization’s Executive Director Bruce Brown.  “Well-established law recognizes that journalists cannot do their jobs to keep the public informed if they cannot work free from government interference.” 

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