AP demands Holder explain FBI’s fake newspaper sting

The FBI's use of a fake Associated Press news story to locate a suspect raises "constitutional concerns," the news organization wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderLawyer claims death threats after anti-Black Lives Matter lawsuit Adviser: Obama can’t ‘erase decades’ of racism Airbnb enlists civil rights leaders in discrimination fight MORE on Thursday. 

A lawyer for the AP called on the Justice Department to vow never to impersonate the news outlet again and to specify what authority it used to justify the action. 

ADVERTISEMENT
"The actions taken by the FBI in this case inflict a very serious harm and raise issues that need to be addressed promptly by the department," AP general council Karen Kaiser wrote in the letter

Documents made public this week through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the FBI created a fake AP news story in 2007. The story was shared on social media with a suspect in order to install tracking software on the person’s computer. The AP said the suspect could have easily exposed others to “government disinformation.”

The FBI was targeting a suspect accused of making multiple bomb threats to a high school and said the operation helped prevent possible violence. The FBI obtained a warrant before the operation, which led to the arrest of a 15-year-old student. 

The AP said the plan undermined the independence of the press. The story also compromised its credibility to gather news safely and effectively, especially in parts of the world where its credibility relies on its independence, the company noted.  

"The Department of Justice should neither condone nor permit such conduct," according to the letter. 

The AP asked for information about similar actions and for the Justice Department to adopt policies to prevent it from happening again in the future. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Thursday also scolded Holder over a number of controversial DOJ investigatory tactics that were recently revealed.

He said the practices carry "ethical and legal risks" and undermine the public's trust.