Gov't Seized AP Reporters' Phone Records

AP calls it an 'unprecedented intrusion'

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted May 13, 2013 5:17 PM CDT

(Newser) – The government secretly seized two months of phone records from the Associated Press, according to the AP itself. The Justice Department took records for 20 separate phone lines, including incoming and outgoing calls, the length of each call, and reporters' personal phone numbers. "These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities ... 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," wrote the AP's CEO in a letter of protest.

The AP believes the records were obtained earlier this year, but the Justice Department did not notify it of the seizure until last week, and did not say why it had taken the records. The agency believes it may be related to a story published in 2012 about a thwarted al-Qaeda terror plot in Yemen. The phone numbers of five journalists and an editor involved in the story were among those seized. Earlier this year, the director of the CIA described the release of information on the terror plot to the media as an "unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information."

The screen on the phone console at the reception desk at the Associated Press Washington bureau.
The screen on the phone console at the reception desk at the Associated Press Washington bureau.   (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
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