NYT Editor: Seizure of DOJ phone records a ‘dangerous incursion’ into press freedom
New York Times publisher and president AG Sulzberger criticized Trump’s Justice Department seizure of Times reporters’ phone records in a memo to newspaper staff on Friday.
“They represent a dangerous foray into press freedom in this country,” Sulzberger wrote.
On Wednesday, The Times reported that current Department of Justice (DOJ) officials informed the newspaper that former DOJ investigators had seized 2017 recordings of calls made by reporters Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau and Michael S. Schmidt.
“We have asked the Department of Justice to explain why this action was taken and what the department is doing to ensure this does not happen again,” Sulzberger wrote.
Although the Department of Justice did not specify which Times article was under investigation, the newspaper suggested that it was an article about the handling of investigations by the former director of the FBI James Comey during the 2016 presidential election.
The seizures have contributed to an “increasingly difficult climate for journalists around the world,” Sulzberger said in his memo, citing cases in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe where Times reporters were arrested or deported for doing their job. work.
“We want you to know that the Times newsroom, legal and security teams are working around the clock to support our reporters and freelancers in all of these cases, and many more around the country and around the world,” Sulzberger said.
“Our company leadership will also continue to push officials in the United States and around the world to defend and protect press freedom,” he added.
DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley told The Hill that the Trump DOJ obtained the phone records “as part of a criminal investigation into the unauthorized release of classified information” but that “reporters do not were neither the subjects nor the targets of the investigation”.
Last month, The Washington Post also revealed that Trump’s DOJ was looking for 2017 phone records of its reporters.
Shortly after, CNN also reported that the DOJ had secretly obtained Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr’s phone and email records from 2017.
Following CNN’s announcement, President Biden said the practice of seizing reporters’ phone records was “absolutely, positively” wrong and said it was something his administration would never do.