USA: RSF calls for authorities to protect Jeff German’s sources while investigating his murder
The one-year anniversary of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German’s murder is a solemn reminder of the risks that reporters face on the job. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the authorities not to add to the tragedy by improperly exposing German’s confidential sources.
Journalist Jeff German was found killed outside his Las Vegas home on September 3, 2022. Four days later, police arrested and charged Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles in connection with the murder. German had previously reported on Telles, which contributed to the administrator’s loss in the primary election, and was working on a follow-up story at the time of his murder according to Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook.
As part of the investigation into Telles, law enforcement seized German’s electronic devices and newsgathering materials. This represents a risk to the late reporter’s confidential sources. In January, the newspaper sought a protective order against authorities reviewing the contents of German’s devices, arguing that the materials seized are protected under the Nevada Shield Law, which the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press calls “one of the strongest shield laws in the country.” The Nevada Supreme Court is currently considering the matter.
“We implore the authorities to do all they can to bring Jeff German’s killer to justice, but endangering German’s journalistic sources in the course of this investigation will only compound the tragedy. Authorities in this case must respect the confidentiality of German’s sources and privileged reporting materials. If law enforcement or government officials were to review the full, unredacted contents of German’s devices, it would put confidential sources at risk and have a chilling effect on anyone else from speaking to reporters.
Telles has denied murdering German, saying he was framed for the crime. Telles’ next hearing is scheduled for October 24, 2023 with a start date for the trial November 6. The Las Vegas Metro Police Department declined to comment as this is an ongoing investigation.
German has been awarded numerous honors posthumously, including the National Press Club's President’s Award. It was given to him and Lizzie Johnson, a Washington Post reporter who took over the investigation German was working on at the time of his death.
The United States is ranked 45th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index.