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Scientists urge rehiring of fired nuke lab worker

Friday - 8/22/2014, 4:09pm  ET

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- A group of scientists who work to limit the spread of nuclear weapons is urging the U.S. Energy Secretary to intervene on behalf of a fired Los Alamos National Laboratory worker.

Santa Fe political scientist James Doyle was fired after 17 years on the job in July after writing an article for a nonprofit website in support of abolishing nuclear weapons. Doyle worked on the lab's non-proliferation team.

Doyle said he was fired after lab officials claimed his article raised classification concerns. Doyle said the article was approved for publication by the lab's classification office. But, he said, the lab did an about-face after it was published and declared portions of it classified.

The lab has declined to comment.

In a letter obtained by the Santa Fe New Mexican (http://bit.ly/1rpTbbs ), Federation of American Scientists President Charles Ferguson urged Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to ensure that that Doyle isn't penalized for participating in the national dialogue over nuclear policy.

"Freedom of expression -- within the boundaries of law and national security classification -- is not a 'favor' that we grant those holding minority views," Ferguson wrote. "Rather, it is a guarantor of the intellectual vitality that we expect from our institutions, including our national labs."

This week, Doyle's attorney, Mark Zaid, appealed the dismissal of a whistleblower complaint to the federal Department of Energy Office of Hearings and Appeals.

Doyle said planned travel related to his duties monitoring global nuclear arms reduction programs was canceled, he was placed on investigative leave for one day, and he was stripped of his clearances to access classified information about foreign countries' nuclear stockpiles and other closely held secrets.

Ultimately, Doyle claims in the legal action, the punishments for his views culminated in his dismissal.

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com


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