The Department of Justice secretly obtained phone records for reporters and editors who work for the Associated Press news agency, including records for the home phones and cell phones of individual journalists, according to the AP, in what the agency characterized as “serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.”
The records, covering all of April and May 2012, were seized by the DoJ earlier this year and covered more than 20 separate phone lines. The records listed outgoing calls for both the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, as well as the general phone lines for AP bureaus in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and a main number used by AP reporters in the House of Representatives.
AP said it did not know if the records also included incoming calls and information about the duration of each call. The news agency also did not know how many journalists had used the bureau phone lines during that period.
The news organization discovered the surveillance last Friday when the office of U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, Jr. in Washington sent AP’s general counsel a letter informing her that his office had obtained the records.
The letter did not say why the feds sought the records, but AP noted that Machen’s office is reportedly conducting a criminal investigation to uncover the source of information that…