WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the wake of reports today that the Justice Department secretly obtained phone records of several of AP’s reporters and four of its offices, the National Press Club requests that the Obama administration publicly explain the reasons behind the action.
The Justice Department disclosed to AP in a May 10 letter that the government had obtained last year two months of personal and professional phone records for individual AP reporters and from AP offices in the House press gallery and from AP bureaus in DC, New York and Hartford, Conn. The letter did not provide a reason why, AP said, but the targets of the government seizures and the timing suggested that it might be related to a probe of who leaked information to AP for a story the news organization broke last year about a bombing plot that had been organized by an Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen.
AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt called the incident “a massive and unprecedented intrusion” into newsgathering and said the records could reveal how AP reporters and editors gather news and what they’re working on.
“This appears to be a gross violation of press freedom,” said National Press Club President Angela Greiling Keane, a Bloomberg News reporter. “If there’s a good explanation for this, the public has a right to hear it promptly.”
The National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists and is an ardent advocate of press freedom and open government.