Is the New York Times Web site “published” in Britain? Times lawyers are concerned that the Brits will try to argue that, as the paper has decided to withhold from its online edition what is apparently a blockbuster story about the evidence against the bombing-plot suspects.
Under British law, news organizations are prohibited from publishing all kinds of things about criminal defendants lest the case against them be prejudiced. For Arthur Sulzberger Jr. to give in so quickly to the concern that the Times Web site would be covered by that law strikes me as overcautious in the extreme.
This is the paper whose top officials risked prison for publishing the Pentagon Papers, and who are at least theoretically risking prison now for their aggressive reporting on President Bush’s surveillance programs — something for which Sulzberger deserves huge props.
So why this? The Times is an American newspaper published in the United States. The fact that its Web site is available worldwide shouldn’t stop the paper from including stories that might run afoul of local laws. Or is the Times going to start dropping its coverage of human-rights violations in China? (Via Romenesko.)
Update: The story is now online.
Update II: And blocked in the U.K.