US Department of Justice secretly seized the phone records of NYT reporters
In 2017, the US Department of Justice secretly seized the phone records of four New York Times reporters. That newspaper reported Wednesday. In this way, the Trump administration tried to find out the sources of the newspaper’s journalists.
The building of phone records took place over a four-month period, from 14 January to 30 April, and took place as part of an investigation into a leak surrounding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The four journalists in question had published in April this year about politically sensitive investigations conducted under the direction of then FBI Director James Comey. The article, which was about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server during her term as secretary of State, mentioned a secret document that the Justice Department under Trump might want to know more about. The Russian document in question is said to have been stolen by hackers working on behalf of Dutch intelligence services.
It wasn’t just the New York Times that seized journalists ‘ records. Last month, the Justice Department of current President Joe Biden announced two other cases from the Trump era. These were telephone logs of reporters working on The Washington Post and the telephone and e-mail logs of a CNN reporter.
Dean Baquet, Editor-in-chief of the New York Times, condemns the action of the Trump administration. “The confiscation of journalists ‘ phone records profoundly undermines press freedom,” he said in a statement. “It threatens to silence the sources on which we depend to provide the public with essential information about what the government is doing.”
News media and supporters of freedom of expression in the United States have been critical of attempts by US governments to access journalists ‘ communications data in order to detect leaks. This would, according to critics, unduly restrict the freedom of the press.
President Joe Biden said last month, after the disclosure of the seizures at The Washington Post and CNN, that he will never allow such actions by the Department of Justice during his reign. He called it ” simply wrong.” Baquet appreciates Biden’s promise, he says in his statement, but still demands a statement from the Ministry of Justice about the seizure. He also wants to know what steps are being taken to prevent such an invasion of journalists’privacy from occurring again.