Cayley's threat appears to rest on quite broad language in the ECCC's rules authorizing the court to sanction "any person who discloses confidential information in violation of an order of the Co-Investigating Judges or the Chambers." While punishing court officials and employees who reveal confidential information might in some cases be necessary to prevent leaks from the inside, the prosecution of journalists will neither stop these leaks nor serve the public interest.
The dangers of authorizing such prosecutions are described well by Thierry Cruvellier, a French journalist who faced contempt proceedings at the hands of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda after he revealed that a key prosecution witness was suspected of participating in the genocide. In his words,
In democratic societies, journalists breach confidentiality measures and defy court orders when they believe the public interest outweighs the need for secrecy. And it is the job of journalists to find out information that some parties in a trial want kept secret.Yet prosecutors at the ICTR and now the ECCC seem to overlook both the crucial role of the Fourth Estate in a democracy and the central function of internationalized criminal courts in modeling democratic principles in countries struggling to transition to democracy. One can only hope that they remember these core democratic values at the ECCC, and soon.