Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called on the Justice Department to condemn the Drug Enforcement Administration’s creation of a fake Facebook page to impersonate a woman to interact with criminals. 

Leahy said the “appalling” incident endangered the woman and her child, who was included in some of the photos posted online by a DEA official. Other posts included private images of the woman in sexually suggestive poses. 

“I hope the Justice Department will agree that creating an online profile using an unsuspecting person’s identity to communicate with criminals is unethical, potentially dangerous, and should not be condoned by our nation’s law enforcement agencies,” Leahy wrote in a letter dated Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder. 

The Justice Department has said it is reviewing the incident after it was reported by BuzzFeed earlier this month. The woman, Sondra Arquiett, is suing the DEA agent who set up the account in 2011.  

Arquiett pleaded guilty to drug charges in 2011 and completed probation for her involvement in her boyfriend’s drug operation. She reportedly gave officers permission to access her cellphone at the time, but Leahy said that did not give the agency the green light to go as far as it did. 

“This exploitation put her and the minor children in her photographs at risk without their knowledge,” Leahy said.

Facebook removed the profile after the report and condemned it as a serious breach of the company’s policy and said it undermined the trust of the social media platform. Leahy said the Justice Department should reconsider the practice. 

Leahy noted that the local U.S. attorney’s office in New York where the incident took place “has thus far defended the practice.”

Tags Drug Enforcement Administration Patrick Leahy

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