The federal government is asking an appeals panel in Richmond to reverse a ruling that shields a reporter from testifying in the case of an ex-CIA officer charged with leaking classified information about a botched covert operation in Iran.

Government attorney Robert Parker told the three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday that it should reverse a pretrial ruling by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema that limited the scope of reporter James Risen's testimony in the prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling.

Parker argued that the First Amendment doesn't shield journalists from disclosing their sources during criminal prosecutions. He also said Risen's testimony is integral to the government's case because the reporter was the recipient of the information central to the crimes with which Sterling is charged.