Report: Justice Dept. investigated Fox News reporter over leak

The Justice Department (DOJ) seized the personal emails of Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen and used other surveillance methods to investigate whether he was complicit in a leak of classified information, The Washington Post reported Monday.

According to the report, the DOJ also examined Rosen’s phone records and tracked his visits to the State Department using security-badge data during the 2009 probe.

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The controversial methods were employed as the government sought to root out the source of a State Department leak surrounding a story Rosen wrote that said U.S. intelligence officials believed North Korea would likely respond to new United Nations sanctions by testing more nuclear weapons. In his story, Rosen revealed that the CIA analysis was based on sources inside North Korea.

The DOJ identified State Department worker Stephen Jin-Woo Kim as the source of the leak. Kim faces federal charges for disclosing classified national security information and could see a trial as soon as next year.

The investigation was broadened to include Rosen, who federal authorities say may have acted as “an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in the leak.

In a statement to The Washington Post, the DOJ said its actions were in accordance with “all applicable laws, regulations, and longstanding Department of Justice policies intended to safeguard the First Amendment interests of the press in reporting the news and the public in receiving it.”

The development comes at a time when the DOJ is already facing criticism for seizing phone records of Associated Press reporters in an attempt to find the source of another national security leak. Unlike the Rosen case, the AP was never a target of that investigation.

AP CEO Gary Pruitt on Sunday called the DOJ’s seizure of the wire service’s phone records an “unconstitutional act.”

Pruitt said he feared the seizure would also make sources more reluctant to speak to the press.

“I think it will hurt journalists,” he said.