The US Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of Associated Press journalists.
The US Justice Department has clandestinely gained access to two months of telephone records of reporters and editors of The Associated Press in what the New York City-based news agency described as a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.”
The records obtained by the Justice Department comprised outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington, and Hartford, Connecticut, and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery.
In all, the US government obtained the records for more than 20 separate phone lines designated to AP and its correspondents in April and May of 2012.
AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt, in a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, said the government sought and acquired information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation.
He also asked the government to return the phone records and to destroy all copies.
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. 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,” Pruitt said.
US prosecutors have previously sought phone records from reporters. However, the seizure of records from such a large number of AP offices is an extraordinary move.
The Justice Department has so far refused to offer any explanation for the move.
Among those whose phone records were obtained were five reporters and an editor who contributed to a story published on May 7, 2012.
The story exposed the details of a CIA operation in Yemen to thwart an airliner bomb plot.
This article originally appeared on : Press TV