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Biden administration issued subpoena for Guardian reporters’ phone details | American News

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The subpoena that was used by the US Department of Justice to obtain details of a phone account from Guardian journalists, as part of an investigation into the leaks, was issued by the Biden administration in the first weeks of Joe Bidens presidency.

In a statement to The Guardian, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspectors General confirmed that the subpoena was issued in February 2021 shortly after Biden entered the White House. The action was taken in an effort to guess the identity of an alleged financial backer, suspected of leaking to news outlets details of an investigation into the Trump administration’s previous policy of separating the children from their parents at the southern border of the United States.

On Thursday it emerged that the DoJ had secretly used a subpoena to confirm the phone number of Stephanie Kirchgaessner, the Guardians’ investigations correspondent. She had been the author of two reports in 2020 which revealed sensitive aspects of the child separation policy, including that Donald Trumps then Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave the green light for children of all ages to be removed of their parents.

It was unclear at the time which administration was responsible for issuing the subpoena, as the investigation into the leaks had overlapped with the Trump and Biden administrations. Now, the DoJ’s Office of Inspectors General has clarified that the decision was made during the Biden administration.

Stephanie Logan, a spokeswoman for the Office of Inspectors General which acts as the DoJ’s internal watchdog and which was leading the investigation into the children’s separation, told the Guardian the subpoena was issued in February 2021 in accordance with the requirements of the Justice Manual.

The subpoena, she said, had been issued to a telecommunications company to confirm that a specific phone number already known to investigators actually belonged to a specific media outlet. Investigators knew the Kirchgaessners phone number, although Logan did not refer to the reporter by name in their previous review of phone records from an official in the Inspector General’s office suspected of being behind it. of the leak.

Logan pointed out that the subpoena did not request, and investigators did not receive, the content of communications to or from the account holder’s phone number or any other phone account details.

The disclosure of the use of a subpoena to confirm the phone number of a Guardian reporter in a case that did not involve national security or classified information has drawn heavy criticism. Guardians editor Katharine Viner called the DoJ’s action a blatant example of an assault on press freedom and public interest journalism.

In July 2021, the DoJ under Bidens newly appointed Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a new policy that promised to restrict the use of compulsory process to obtain information or records from members of the media acting in the collection information. Activities. Proponents of increased federal protections for the press, however, have complained about the Biden administration’s lackluster support for tougher protection laws.

Last summer, Ron Wyden, the U.S. senator from Oregon, introduced new legislation to protect journalists from unnecessary government surveillance in response to revelations of the Trump administration’s brutal surveillance of journalists at CNN, in New York Times and other media. Wyden told the Freedom of the Press Foundation at the time that he tried to get Justice Department support for his new press law, but Biden administration officials did not. managed to engage.

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2/ https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/14/joe-biden-guardian-reporter-subpoena

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