US court hears case involving impersonation of AP journalistNovember 13, 2017 10:48pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court heard arguments Monday in a case that developed after an FBI agent pretended to be an Associated Press journalist as part of an investigation into bomb threats at a high school in Washington state.

When the ruse became public in 2014, the AP and a press freedom organization attempted to get government records about the case and any other times FBI agents have impersonated journalists. The lawsuit the appeals court heard Monday was related to whether the FBI looked hard enough for records requested by the organizations.

A lower court ruled in favor of the government, saying the FBI had "conducted a good faith, reasonable search." The organizations appealed.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit hearing argument in the case Monday, however, had tough questions for the lawyer representing the government. The judges wanted to know how the organizations bringing the case, the AP and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, could be expected to challenge the adequacy of the FBI's search if they weren't provided with the search terms the FBI used to carry out the request in various parts of the organization.

"There's no description of how it was done," Judge David Tatel told a lawyer representing the government.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh also underscored that it wasn't clear how the search was conducted. And Judge Laurence Silberman wanted to know why the FBI hadn't searched for records located in the office of the FBI's director.

The lawsuit stems from a 2007 investigation into bomb threats emailed to Timberline High School in Lacey, Washington, which is near the state capital of Olympia. As part of the investigation, an FBI agent communicating with a suspect in the case portrayed himself as an AP reporter. The agent sent the suspect a link to a fabricated AP news article, a link that when clicked allowed the FBI to pinpoint the suspect's location.

After the FBI's actions came to light in 2014, resulting in an outcry by the AP and other news organizations, both the AP and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press submitted records requests to the government under the Freedom of Information Act. The organizations asked for additional information about the Timberline High School incident, information about other instances where the FBI impersonated a member of the news media, and information about policies or guidelines governing the FBI's impersonation of members of the media.

After getting no records, the organizations sued in 2015. The government ultimately turned over about 190 pages of records, more than half of those pages with redactions.

___

Follow Jessica Gresko on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jessicagresko

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Middle school cancels Muslim speaker after furorA Connecticut middle school teacher's plan to have a Muslim woman talk to students about her religion has been canceled because the teacher felt threatened by the resulting furor
Elliot Yoder, 16, a transgender student at Dallas High School in Dallas, Ore., poses for a photo after a news conference held by ACLU Oregon and Basic Rights in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, to protest a federal lawsuit filed against the Dallas School District over its policy on the treatment of transgender students. The district began allowing Yoder to use the boys' locker room and boys' restrooms after he publicly identified as transgender. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
Parents sue Oregon school district over transgender policy
Randy Morehouse, the maintenance and operations supervisor for the Corning Elementary School District, walks past the gate, at the Rancho Tehama Elementary School, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, that gunman Kevin Janson Neal crashed through during his shooting rampage at Rancho Tehama Reserve, Calif., Tuesday. Neal killed five people, including his wife before being shoot and killed by Tehama County Sheriff's deputies. Neal is believed to have spent six minutes shooting into the school before driving off to continue his shooting spree. One student was shot but is expected to survive. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Children quieted others at California school as gunman fired
FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2017, file photo, police arrest a man as people protest a not guilty verdict in the trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, in St. Louis. A federal judge has ruled that St. Louis police can't shut down non-violent protests or use chemical agents such as mace to punish people demonstrating against police conduct. The Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, order responds to an American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri lawsuit against St. Louis over police tactics during ongoing protests following the acquittal of the white former police officer in the 2011 killing of a black man. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
Judge: St. Louis police can't spray chemicals on protesters
The Latest: Clay seeks investigation of St. Louis policeA Democratic congressman from St. Louis is asking the new U.S. attorney for eastern Missouri to launch an investigation of allegations of civil rights violations by St. Louis police officers during protests
Ex-con, wife charged in carjack killing of Chinese studentAuthorities have charged an ex-con and wife with hatching a deadly carjacking plot that resulted in the death of a University of Utah student from China
This component is currently unavailable.
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

AdChoices