U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Boston Globe editor subpoenaed for testimony in Harvard admissions bribery case

Incident Details

October 11, 2022

Boston Globe journalist Joshua Miller was subpoenaed for testimony as part of a Harvard University admissions scandal criminal case in Boston, Massachusetts, on Oct. 11, 2022.

In April 2019, Miller, now the Globe’s politics editor, broke the story of bribes allegedly paid to Harvard’s fencing coach, Peter Brand, by Maryland businessman Jie Zhao. According to the Globe, Zhao purchased Brand’s house at nearly twice its value. In return, Brand allegedly helped facilitate Harvard admission for Zhao’s two sons by recruiting them to the university’s fencing team.

Two months after the Globe published the story, the Department of Justice launched a grand jury inquiry. Brand and Zhao were formally indicted on federal bribery charges in 2020.

Globe legal counsel Jonathan M. Albano challenged the 2022 subpoena for Miller’s testimony in a Nov. 3 motion to quash, arguing that it’s not vital to the government’s case.

Albano requested that the judge instead issue a protective order for an in-camera review of Miller's recorded interview with Zhao. In a written declaration submitted to the court, Miller stated that testifying would force him to disclose confidential sources he felt “duty-bound to protect” and could have a negative impact on future reporting.

“I believe this will inhibit sources from speaking to me in the future because they will not trust that our conversations will exclusively be used for news reporting,” Miller stated. “I believe they will speak less frankly to me, or not speak to me at all, since they may fear that what they tell me will become something I will later testify about in criminal or civil litigation.”

Neither Miller nor Albano responded to requests for comment from the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

On Nov. 8, the DOJ filed an opposition to the motion to quash, claiming only Miller can provide first-hand knowledge of Zhao’s statements to him. The federal bribery trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 5.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected]