Four people charged in connection with White House leaks as furious Trump cracks down on journalists and whistleblowers

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The White House has cracked down on a series of embarrassing leaks in recent weeks, with the US Attorney General announcing that four people had been charged following an investigation.

Jeff Sessions addressed “leakers” in a news conference on Friday and accused them of undermining the US government. 

In a move criticised by many as being an attack on the free press, Mr Sessions suggested the administration was reviewing policies on forcing journalists to reveal their sources.

He ordered employees of government agencies to stop leaking and called the issue a matter of national security.

Crackdown: US Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats (EPA)

President Trump has repeatedly voiced anger over a steady stream of leaks to the media about him and his administration since he took office in January.

Some have been related to probes into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election; others have concerned infighting in the White House.

“One of the things we are doing is reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas,” Mr Sessions told reporters, saying that leaks “undermine the ability of our government to protect this country.”

“We respect the important role that the press plays and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited,” the nation’s top law official said.

A subpoena is a writ compelling a journalist to testify or produce evidence, with a penalty for failure to do so.

Trump: The President has accused media outlets who claim inside sources of reporting ‘fake news'(EPA)

Mr Sessions said the Justice Department has tripled the number of investigations into unauthorised leaks of classified information and announced four people have already been charged.

“We are taking a stand,” he said. “This culture of leaking must stop.”

He did not identify the four people charged, but said they had been accused of unlawfully disclosing classified information or concealing contacts with foreign intelligence officers.

But Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union said this latest apparent crackdown from Mr Trump’s administration should concern “every American”.

He said: “Every American should be concerned about the Trump administration’s threat to step up its efforts against whistle-blowers and journalists.

“A crackdown on leaks is a crackdown on the free press and on democracy as a whole.”

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