An Infringement of Freedom of the Press? the FBI Opens and Seizes Mail Sent From One Associated Press Reporter to Another

April 25, 2003

Last September a reporter with the Associated Press in the Philippines sent a FedEx package to a colleague in Washington.

The package contained unclassified FBI documents. Reporters send such items often. But this one never made it to Washington.

FedEx officials originally said the package may have fallen off its delivery van. But AP officials were suspicious of what happened.

And now it turns out the package was never lost. It was seized and confiscated by the FBI.

In an April 3 letter released this week, the FBI acknowledged that its agents had confiscated the package at Customs.

Unnamed FBI officials told the New York Times the documents seized were too sensitive for public consumption. The package contained a report with detailed materials seized from the apartment of a man convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

The F.B.I. also announced this week it had opened an internal investigation to determine whether its agents abused their authority by secretly seizing the documents.

  • Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director of The Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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