Newly uncovered court documents show the Justice Department seized phone records associated with several Fox News lines as part of a leak investigation — a revelation that comes as the White House Correspondents’ Association spoke out against the administration’s monitoring of reporters.
Documents filed in October 2011 appear to show exchanges that match the specific locations of Fox News’ White House, Pentagon, State Department and other operations. The last four digits of each of the phone numbers listed are redacted in the government filing so it is impossible to know the full numbers. The seizure was ordered in addition to a court-approved search warrant for Fox News correspondent James Rosen’s personal emails.
Among the numbers listed were several that start with the area code and exchange, 202-824 — which is an area code and exchange for the Fox News Washington bureau. The phone number for Rosen’s parents also falls within one of the exchanges listed in the document, though other numbers could fall within that exchange.
The phone information was included in a long list of numbers, email addresses and other details that prosecutors shared with defense attorneys shortly after the alleged leaker was indicted. The document said the government had already obtained a trove of material from the defendant, Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, including his passport applications, State Department badge records, emails, computer and hard drive.
Asked about the documents, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told Fox News he “can’t comment on an ongoing criminal investigation.”
The case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen Jr.
Meanwhile, the Correspondents’ Association spoke out on incidents involving two news organizations. The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of phone records from the Associated Press and obtained a search warrant for the personal emails of Fox News’ James Rosen. The information about the phone records was uncovered Tuesday.
In the latter case, an FBI agent also claimed in an affidavit that Rosen was possibly a criminal “co-conspirator.”
Though no charges were brought against Rosen, the White House Correspondents’ Association said no journalist should even face that threat for doing their job.
“Reporters should never be threatened with prosecution for the simple act of doing their jobs,” the WHCA said in a statement Tuesday. “The problem is that in two recent cases, one involving Fox News’ James Rosen and the other focused on the Associated Press, serious questions have been raised about whether our government has gotten far too aggressive in its monitoring of reporters’ movements, phone records, and even personal email.”
The statement went on: “We do not know all of the facts in these cases, so we will just say this in general: Our country was founded on the principle of freedom of the press and nothing is more sacred to our profession. So we stand in strong solidarity with our colleagues who have been scrutinized. And in terms of the administration, ultimately what will matter more in all of these cases is action not words.”
Earlier, Carney said President Obama believes reporters shouldn’t be prosecuted for doing their jobs. The association said it agreed.
The WHCA’s board is led by Fox News’ Ed Henry.
The statement comes after court documents showed the Justice Department obtained a portfolio of information about Rosen’s conversations and visits to the State Department. This included a search warrant for his personal emails.
In an affidavit, an FBI agent claimed there’s evidence the Fox News correspondent broke the law, “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.”
Michael Clemente, Fox News’ executive vice president of news, defended Rosen in a statement issued Monday afternoon.
“We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter,” Clemente said. “In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”
In the case involving Rosen, a government adviser was accused of leaking information after a 2009 story was published online which said North Korea planned to respond to looming U.N. sanctions with another nuclear test.
Rosen said Monday that "as a reporter, I always honor the confidentiality of my dealings with all of my sources."
The Department of Justice said in a statement that “leaks of classified information to the press can pose a serious risk of harm to our national security and it is important that we pursue these matters using appropriate law enforcement tools.”
The U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia also said the government, before seeking approval for the search warrant, “exhausted all reasonable non-media alternatives for collecting this evidence.”