Hope & No Rights: Justice Dept. Secretly Seized AP Reporters’ Phone Records

Published on May 13, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 6.05.20 PMFederal prosecutors secretly obtained two months of telephone records of Associated Press journalists, the news agency revealed on Monday, calling it a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.”

AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt called the action “a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.”

The Justice Department notified the AP on Friday that it had subpoenaed the records, which included more than 20 office, cellphone and home phone lines. The lines include the general AP office numbers in New York; Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery.

The government did not reveal why it seized the records, but the AP noted that federal officials have previously said they were investigating who leaked information to the AP about a foiled terror plot in 2012. An AP story in May 2012 included details about a CIA operation in Yemen targeting al Qaeda operatives. Pruitt sent a letter on Monday to Attorney General Eric Holder protesting the seizure of records. He demanded that the government return the call records to the AP and destroy its own copies.

“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters,” Pruitt said.

“These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”

Read more: thehill.com

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