ACLU brief supports media challenging gag order in West Virginia ex-coal executive's case

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CHARLESTON, West Virginia — The ACLU is supporting news organizations challenging a gag order in an ex-coal executive's criminal case.

In a brief supporting the motion, the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia Foundation says the order is prior restraint on speech. The organization filed the brief Thursday and distributed it to media outlets Friday.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger's order restricts parties or victims from discussing former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's case with reporters or releasing court documents.

The Associated Press, The Charleston Gazette, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio and Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting are asking Berger to drop or modify the order.

Blankenship is charged with conspiring to violate safety and health standards at Upper Big Branch Mine, where a 2010 explosion killed 29 men.

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