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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/9/18

Trump's Justice Dept Escalates Its Crackdown on Leaks by Seizing New York Times Reporter's Phone and Email Records

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It should be pointed out that the targeting of journalists and their sources is not unique to Trump. As the New York Times also noted, "The seizure...suggested that prosecutors under the Trump administration will continue the aggressive tactics employed under President Barack Obama."

Sadly, as we detailed when Trump was elected, President Obama's Justice Department laid the groundwork for the current crackdown on leaks and journalism we are currently seeing from Trump and Sessions. Led by former Attorney General Eric Holder, the previous administration prosecuted more leak cases than all other previous administrations combined.

Several of those cases involved directly spying on reporters by subpoenaing their phone lines, accessing the content of a journalist's email, and other disturbing tactics that exposed travel records, financial records and more. The Obama-era Justice Department also gutted reporter's privilege in the Fourth Circuit, home to many of the country's intelligence agencies.

Obama and Holder certainly deserve scrutiny for the previous administration's shameful record on press freedom and the precedent it set. But now Trump and Sessions, who have long been avowed enemies of the press, are poised to take it to even more dangerous heights.

Ali Watkins is an excellent reporter. She is having her private records scrutinized and spied on by the government for doing her job as a journalist, and the Justice Department's move should be loudly condemned by everyone no matter your political preference.

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Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a writer, activist, and lawyer who specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. He has contributed to  The (more...)
 

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