The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has been sued by the Associated Press (AP) for the suppression of documents about FBI agent who impersonated an AP journalist and created a fake news story.
Last year, AP filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FBI in search of the documents related to the situation, but according to the recent lawsuit filed by AP against FBI, no information has been provided by the agency.
Furthermore, the agency is not being transparent about the searching process and responded to the Associated Press saying that the process of gathering requested information could take two or more years.
The allegation dates back to 2007 when an FBI agent represented himself as an AP journalist and published a false news draft on a legit-looking fake webpage of The Seattle Times with the headlines
“Bomb threat at high school downplayed by local police department” and “Technology savvy student holds Timberline High School hostage”.
The website in question was also infected with a spyware script and the link to the website was sent as a private message to a 15-year-old student.
When the suspect clicked on the link to check the news story, the malware-infected website automatically traced the IP address and MAC address, including all the details of the suspected student’s computer. And that was all the information required by the FBI agency to charge the kid for creating bomb threats to Timberline High School located near Olympia, Washington.
According to the FBI, no article was ever published about the said news story and the suspect interacted directly with an uncover FBI agent.
According to Katie Townsend, Litigation Director of Reports Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP):
“We cannot overstate how damaging it is for federal agents to pose as journalists. This practice undermines the credibility of the independent news media, and should not be tolerated. Yet while the public clearly has a strong, compelling interest in knowing more about the FBI’s use of this tactic, the FBI seems determined to withhold that information. We have been left with no choice but to look to the court for relief.”
On Thursday, the Associated Press (AP) and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) jointly filed a lawsuit against the United States Justice Department and the FBI. Both organizations are requesting the agency to release all the FBI’s documents related to the operation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Moreover, the request also asked FBI to disclose how many times they have impersonated the media members to catch suspects since 2000, the request also asks about all the documents and materials they have used to catch suspects including bogus news stories and media materials.
Report typos and corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org