How can you sue the FBI

Agent disguised as a journalist: News agency sues US judiciary

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Because an FBI agent pretended to be a journalist in his investigation into bomb threats, the American news agency AP took the US Department of Justice to court. The agency sees its reputation threatened.

Together with the journalists' organization "Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press", the Associated Press (AP) filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Justice on Thursday for the release of files from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on an incident in 2007. At that time, an investigator had pretended to be an AP reporter for a teenager and tried to convict the teenager with a bogus article. He was suspected of threatening to bomb a high school. When the then 15-year-old clicked on the link to the article sent to him via social media, a secret malware program was downloaded onto his computer. With this, the FBI was able to locate and ultimately arrest the teenager.

AP and other media organizations fearing for their reputation expressed indignation when the case came to light last year. The youngster could have spread the wrong article on the Internet and seriously damaged the credibility of the reporting, it said. "The FBI has embezzled the familiar name of the Associated Press and created a situation in which our credibility could have been undermined on a large scale," wrote AP attorney Karen Kaiser in 2014 to then Attorney General Eric Holder, as the agency reports. It is not in accordance with the principle of a free press to impersonate AP or any other media organization. In the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Holder were even accused of using investigative tactics with "ethical and legal risks".

The FBI defended the practice as a legitimate means of warding off terrorist attacks. FBI Director James Comey told the investigator that the investigator had no contact with anyone except the suspect under his false identity and that no one else had seen the fake article New York Times written.

dpa / mbr / LTO editorial team