Justice Dept. to no longer seize reporters' records for leak probes
By Tal Axelrod - 06/05/21 11:46 AM EDT
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Saturday that it will no longer secretly obtain reporters' private phone records as part of investigations into leaks, confirming a shift in policy under the Biden administration.
The move marks a reversal of a longstanding government practice to try to uncover reporters' sources, efforts that news organizations have decried. It comes amid a flood of criticism over a push by the DOJ during both the Trump and Biden administrations to obtain communications logs from reporters of various outlets.
“DOJ has now completed a review to determine all instances in which the Department had pending compulsory requests from reporters in leak investigations. All reporters involved have now been notified," DOJ spokesperson Anthony Coley said Saturday.
"Going forward, consistent with the President’s direction, this Department of Justice—in a change to its longstanding practice--will not seek compulsory legal process in leak investigations to obtain source information from members of the news media doing their jobs," Coley added. "The Department strongly values a free press, protecting First Amendment values, and is committed to taking all appropriate steps to ensure the independence of journalists.”