On Thursday, The New York Times and other outlets reported that the Department of Justice seized phone and email records for New York Times reporter Ali Watkins as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. The records span Watkins’ time reporting on law enforcement and national security for other news organizations.
Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, made the following statement:
“Seizing a journalist’s records sends a terrible message to the public and should never be considered except as the last resort in a truly essential investigation. We call on the Justice Department to explain how its actions adhered to its own guidelines for protecting newsgathering from exactly these kinds of damaging intrusions. These rules protect the public’s interest in allowing journalists to report on what’s happening inside the government without fear of being investigated.”