Congressman Wants Obama to Say If Greenwald Faces Arrest

Grayson suspects 'they already know what their answer is' for journalist who exposed NSA programs.

Glenn Greenwald arrives to speak before a committee of Brazil's legislature on Oct. 9, 2013, in Brasilia, Brazil.
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Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., hasn't heard back from Attorney General Eric Holder since asking on Oct. 10 if journalist Glenn Greenwald faces detention, arrest and prosecution if he returns to the U.S.

Grayson doesn't appreciate the delay and feels President Barack Obama should personally clarify the government's position.

"There is a lot of concern at this point that the administration and the Justice Department are criminalizing investigative journalism and infringing on the First Amendment," Grayson told U.S. News. "That's a very important issue and deserves to be addressed at the highest levels, which means by the president."

[RELATED: Democratic Rep. Polis Suggests Holder Resign]

Grayson would like to have Greenwald – who authored many of the biggest scoops about National Security Agency data-collection programs – testify before Congress, but that's not likely to happen if uncertainty remains about what jeopardy he is in.

Greenwald lives in Brazil and hasn't returned to the U.S. since he began reporting in June on documents leaked by Edward Snowden. David Miranda, Greenwald's domestic partner, was detained in London for nine hours on Aug. 9 while traveling with leaked files.

The British government justified Miranda's detention by saying the files could "endanger people's lives" and would be published "for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause," meaning their transport "falls within the definition of terrorism," Reuters reports.

[LAWYERS: 9-Hour Airport Detention Also Possible in U.S.]

[BROWSE: Editorial Cartoons About NSA Surveillance]

In June Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., openly advocated in TV interviews that Greenwald be punished for reporting on classified information.

"It's very unlikely that the Justice Department has not given this any thought," Grayson said. "If this had come out of the blue, then maybe they would have some reason to take a long time in responding. I think they already know what their answer is, and therefore they should provide it quickly."

White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden, who fields questions for the National Security Council, declined to comment on Obama's opinion and referred questions to the Justice Department.

[READ: Will CIA Director John Brennan Face Leak Charges?]

"We have no comment regarding the department's communications with Congress," Justice Department spokesman Andrew Ames said.

Greenwald tweeted Nov. 7 that, in addition to Grayson, well-connected lawyers have also been unable to find answers for him.

"The administration and the attorney general have taken hostile positions against other investigative journalists," Grayson said. "I think that has caused the whole profession some concern. It's reasonable for DOJ to make its position clear: Is the act of investigative journalism now a crime, or not?" 

The Obama administration has charged eight people, none of them journalists, with violating the Espionage Act of 1917 for communicating with the press – compared to three in all other administrations combined since the law was enacted. Holder reportedly approved a 2010 search warrant affidavit that labeled Fox News reporter James Rosen a suspected "aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator" for receiving leaked information. In May the Associated Press revealed two months of its phone records were seized in a hunt for who told the news agency about a foiled May 2012 terror plot the administration incorrectly told the press didn't exist. Alleged damage from that leak was compounded by CIA Director John Brennan, at the time homeland security advisor, who told TV experts western intelligence had infiltrated al-Qaida with an undercover agent.

Read: Grayson's Letter to Holder:

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