August 27, 2015

The Associated Press

The Associated Press and the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press on Thursday filed suit against the U.S. Department of Justice in pursuit of records connected to a fictitious news story concocted by the FBI to help catch a 15-year-old suspect, Michael Biesecker reports for the AP.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in 2007, when an FBI officer investigating bomb threats pretended to be an AP reporter and asked a suspect if he would look over a draft of an article about the threats to be sure he was described accurately. When clicked, the link to the fake news story allowed the FBI to deploy “court-authorized tools” to find the suspect.

When the incident came to light last year, Associated Press Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll called the FBI’s subterfuge “unacceptable” and said it eroded the public’s trust in the press.

The AP filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain records related to the FBI operation, but the bureau hasn’t been forthcoming with the information, according to the AP:

In a response to AP, the FBI indicated it might take nearly two years to find and copy the requested records. AP’s lawsuit asks a federal judge to order the FBI to hand over the records.

The lawsuit marks the second time the AP has filed suit against the federal government this year. In March, the news cooperative sued the U.S. Department of State seeking emails and other government records related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
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