Washington Times Sues Homeland Security Over Seizure Of Reporter’s Notes

Washington Times sues Homeland over seizure of reporter’s notes (Washington Times, Nov 21, 2013):

The Washington Times and one of its former journalists on Thursday sued the Department of Homeland Security, accusing federal agents of illegally seizing the newspaper’s reporting materials during the execution of a search warrant in an unrelated case.

In a motion filed in federal court in Greenbelt, The Times and reporter Audrey Hudson asked a judge to force the federal agency to return all reporting files and documents it seized from Ms. Hudson’s home office during a raid in early August.

The newspaper alleged that federal agents accompanying Maryland State Police on the raid took materials from Ms. Hudson’s office that were not covered by the search warrant that authorized the collection solely of evidence about guns and a potato launcher allegedly possessed by her husband, Paul Flanagan.

The seized materials included documents the newspaper had obtained under the Freedom of Information Act as well as notes and memos that identified confidential sources from a series of investigative stories that exposed problems inside the Homeland Security Department’s Federal Air Marshal Service.

The seizure violated Ms. Hudson’s and the newspaper’s constitutional rights, the court filing argued.

The filing asks a federal judge to order the return of “property that has been unlawfully seized … in violation of the Fourth and First Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.”

The newspaper also asked for permission to take testimony from an agent for Homeland Security’s Coast Guard Investigative Service who attended the raid and was involved in collecting the reporter’s materials to determine how widely information from the newspaper’s documents was distributed within the government.

The newspaper has “substantial reason to believe that the information contained in the five file folders seized from Hudson’s home office has been disseminated to or within” multiple federal agencies, the court filing said.

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