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IFJ Condemns U.S. Justice Dept for Secretly Gathering Associated Press Records

May 20, 2013

May 15, 2013- The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today joined its affiliate, the Newspaper Guild-CWA, in condemning the U.S. Justice Department for secretly gathering the phone records of Associated Press Journalists and called on the department to promptly return them.

On Monday, 13 May, Associated Press (AP) revealed that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had "secretly obtained two months of telephone records of (its) reporters and editors," saying it was a "massive and unprecedented intrusion."

Following this, on Tuesday, 14 May, AP's President, Gary Pruitt, sent a letter to Attorney General, Eric Holder, which detailed that the phone records cover more than 20 telephone lines used by AP journalists, including their homes, offices and mobile phones. He said the phones for which the DOJ obtained records also include ones at the AP bureaus in New York City, Washington DC, Hartford, and at the House of Representatives.

The IFJ has backed Newspaper Guild-CWA's demands for the Justice Department to return all the telephone records that it obtained from the AP journalists' and editors' phones.

"The collection of these records amounts to press intimidation and is a direct attack on journalists. The US Justice Department needs to cease and desist such investigations," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "The ability of journalists to develop and protect sources is vital to keeping the public informed about issues affecting their lives.

"There could be no justification or explanation for this broad, over-reaching investigation. It appears officials are twisting legislation designed to protect public safety as a means to muzzle those concerned with the public's right to know.

Media reports have suggested that the seizure of the records is believed to be linked to an investigation into whether one of the press agency's stories about a thwarted terror plot in Yemen was based on leaked classified information.

The Newspaper Guild-CWA says that this suggestion only exacerbates the damage such actions can have on a free press. They have called on US members to contact their representatives and the White House to tell them to stop the investigation now.

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: 32 2 235 22 17

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