Maryland state police
and federal agents used a search warrant in an unrelated criminal investigation to seize the private reporting files of an award-winning former investigative journalist for The Washington Times who had exposed problems in the Homeland Security Department's Federal Air Marshal Service
Reporter Audrey Hudson
said the investigators, who included an agent for Homeland's Coast Guard
service, took her private notes and government documents that she had obtained under the Freedom of Information Act during a predawn raid of her family home on Aug.6
The documents, some which chronicled her sources and her work at the Times about problems inside the Homeland Security Department
, were seized under a warrant to search for unregistered firearms and a “potato gun” suspected of belonging to her husband, Paul Flanagan
, a Coast Guard employee. Mr. Flanagan
has not been charged with any wrongdoing since the raid.
The warrant, obtained by the Times, offered no specific permission to seize reporting notes or files.
The Washington Times said Friday it is preparing legal action to fight what it called an unwarranted intrusion on the First Amendment.
“While we appreciate law enforcement’s right to investigate legitimate concerns, there is no reason for agents to use an unrelated gun case to seize the First Amendment protected materials of a reporter,” Times Editor John Solomon
said. “This violates the very premise of a free press, and it raises additional concerns when one of the seizing agencies was a frequent target of the reporter’s work.