AP, Newspaper Guild protest DOJ’s ‘massive intrusion’ into newsgathering activities

UPDATE: Here’s the Newspaper Guild’s statement:

The Newspaper Guild-CWA and its local that represents AP staffers, The News Media Guild, demands that the U.S. Justice Department return all telephone records that it obtained from phones — including some home and cell phones – of Associated Press reporters and editors.
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The collection of these records is egregious and a direct attack on journalists, and the Justice Department needs to cease and desist such investigations. The ability of journalists to develop and protect sources is vital to keeping the public informed about issues affecting their lives.

There could be no justification or explanation for this broad, over-reaching investigation. It appears officials are twisting legislation designed to protect public safety as a means to muzzle those concerned with the public’s right to know.

The suggestion that the news story ‘scooped’ an announcement for partisan political purposes only exacerbates the damage such actions can have on a free press. This investigation has a chilling effect on press freedom in the United States – a right enshrined in the Constitution. Please contact your representatives and the White House to tell them to stop this outrageous, abusive investigation now.

* Washington Post: “Experts said the scope of the records secretly seized from the AP and its reporters goes beyond the known scale of previous leak probes.”
* NBC News: One freedom of the press watchdog calls the DOJ’s move “Nixonian.”
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EARLIER: The U.S. Department of Justice secretly obtained phone records for more than 20 separate lines assigned to AP journalists and offices, including cell and home phone lines, the news organization reports.

AP president Gary Pruitt writes to Attorney General Eric Holder:

There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters.aplogo 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.

We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.

* AP responds to intrusive DOJ seizure of phone records (ap.org)
* Justice Department gave AP no explanation for the seizure (AP via yahoo.com)
* Six AP journalists who worked on Yemen story had phone records seized (@RyanLizza)
* UPDATE: Here’s the story the AP suspects led to the sweeping DOJ subpoena (washingtonpost.com)

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