Two investigative journalists are suing the FBI after the government failed to respond on time to a pair of Freedom of Information Act requests filed for details on the death of reporter Michael Hastings.
Jason Leopold and Ryan Shapiro filed a joint suit on Friday after
the Federal Bureau of Investigation neglected to respond to their
FOIA requests within the 20-working day period required by law.
Leopold and Shapiro both sent FOIA requests to the FBI following
Hastings’ untimely death last month, and are now taking legal
action in an attempt to expedite pleas that have so far been
ignored by the bureau.
Hastings, 33, died last month in Los Angeles, California after
his Mercedes C250 CoupÃ© crashed at a high rate of speed in the early morning
hours of June 18. Hastings was widely-respected for his
hard-hitting brand of national security reporting with outlets
ranging from Rolling Stone to Buzzfeed.com, and has been credited
with causing the resignation of Stanley McChrystal, the four-star
general who headed NATO’s International Security Assistance Force
in Afghanistan until a Hastings-penned expose in 2010 embarrassed
him to the point of abandoning that role.
According to a friend, Hastings warned his colleagues over email just hours before
his death that he was working on a big story and that the FBI
would likely be investigating his associates.
“It alarmed me very much,” Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs, a
friend of Hastings, said of the email he received last month. “I
just said it doesn’t seem like him. I don’t know, I just had this
gut feeling and it just really bothered me,” he told KTLA News.
The anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks also claimed that Hastings
made contact with an attorney for the group the night before his
fatal car-crash, furthering speculation that he sought protection
from a potential government investigation.
But now more than one month after Hastings passed away, little
remains known about the night of the accident or what kind of
investigation, if any, occurred in the days and weeks before the
crash, which only further fueled the flames of conspiracy theories that developed in the wake of
the accident. The FBI has formally denounced reports that it was
involved in a probe focusing on Hastings, but Leopold and Shapiro
still insist the government handle the FOIA request, which it was
obligated to address after the 20-day mark passed earlier this
In a statement published by the Freedom of the Press Foundation, Leopold and
Shapiro say they’ve retained attorney Jeffrey Light, who in turn
filed the motion for summary judgment seeking expedited
processing of the federal complaint last week.
“By suing the FBI for failure to comply with the Freedom of
Information Act, [we] hope to obtain records pertaining both to
the unusual circumstances of Michael Hastings’s death and to the
broader issue of FBI surveillance of journalists and other
critics of American national security policy,” Shapiro said.
“Perhaps the FBI doesn’t have any records on Hastings,”
wrote Leopold. “Regardless, I think Hastings would appreciate
that Shapiro and I are trying to find out whether that is truly
Republished from: RT