FBI

The FBI obtained a sealed search warrant to read Fox News reporter James Rosen’s personal emails in a leak investigation.

By Ken Dilanian, Washington Bureau
May 20, 2013, 9:15 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The FBI obtained a sealed search warrant to read a Fox News reporter’s personal emails from two days in 2010 after arguing there was probable cause he had violated espionage laws by soliciting classified information from a government official, court papers show.

In an affidavit, an FBI agent told a federal magistrate that the reporter had committed a crime when he asked a State Department security contractor, Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, to share secret material about North Korea in June 2009.

The affidavit did not name the reporter, but Fox News identified him as its chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen. He was not charged, but Kim was indicted on espionage charges in August 2010 and is awaiting trial. He has denied leaking classified information.

The case marks the first time the government has gone to court to portray news gathering as espionage, and Fox News officials and 1st Amendment advocates reacted angrily Monday after the secret warrant was reported by the Washington Post.

“We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter,” said Michael Clemente, Fox News executive vice president of news. “In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”

The development emerged days after the Justice Department notified the Associated Press that the agency used a subpoena last year to obtain phone company records for 20 telephone lines used by more than 100 reporters and editors in three cities. The subpoena was pursuant to a grand jury investigation of an alleged leak of classified information about an Al Qaeda plot to bomb a U.S. aircraft.

Neither Fox News nor the Associated Press was told in advance about the government actions or had a chance to challenge them in court, the usual practice. The government ordered Google not to disclose that it had given the FBI access to Rosen’s Gmail account, and Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia confirmed in a September 2010 ruling that the government did not have to notify Rosen.

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