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Appeals Court Allows Search of Reporter Phone Records

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  1. Freedom of Information
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A federal appeals court ruled that a federal prosecutor can review the telephone records of two New York Times reporters in a case that arose from prosecution efforts to learn who leaked information to the reporters on an upcoming raid of two Islamic charities. “No grand jury can make an informed decision to pursue the investigation further … without the reporters’ evidence,” Judge Ralph K. Winter Jr. wrote in the 2-1 decision. “We see no danger to a free press in so holding. Learning of imminent law enforcement asset freezes/searches and informing targets of them is not an activity essential, or even common, to journalism.” In his dissent, Judge Robert Sack rebutted: “Ordinary use of the telephone could become a threat to journalist and source alike. It is difficult to see in whose best interests such a regime would operate.” (8/2/06)