(NewsGlobal.com)- The FBI and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have settled a lawsuit, with the organization receiving $145,000 as part of the agreement.
The settlement comes about because an FBI agent created a fake story after posing as a reporter representing The Associated Press.
The lawsuit revealed that in 2007, an FBI agent posted as a reporter for the AP, and then sent a link to a fake news story about an investigation in the state of Washington. Due to that, court documents show that the FBI failed to follow the rules it has set for the agency over how agents can act when they are involved in an undercover operation.
At the time the incident was revealed in 2014, James Comey, who was serving as the FBI’s director, said the technique was both “proper and appropriate” according to the guidelines the FBI had in place.
Comey did say that the incident would ultimately require approvals at higher levels of the FBI. He even said that it was an overall successful operation, since no story was ever published due to the agent’s actions, and it also resulted in an arrest being made.
The incident revolves around the agent who posed as the reporter sending a link to a fake article to a 15-year-old who was suspected of making some bomb threats at a local high school. When the teen ended up clicking the link that was sent, a tracking tool was launched in the background, which allowed the FBI to confirm his identity by revealing the location of his computer.
In 2014, when the issue came to light, the executive director of the AP at the time, Kathleen Carroll, said the FBI’s “unacceptable tactics undermine AP and the vital distinction between the government and the press.”
More than 24 new organizations signed a letter that said the revelations were “inexcusable.” The Reporter’s Committee specifically pointed out that the agent used the AP’s name as “cover for delivery of electronic surveillance software.”
The lawsuits filed against the FBI were part of a larger effort to obtain records about FBI agents impersonating members of the news media. The cases resulted in court decisions being made about how far government agencies have to go to search for requested documents, and what standards they have to meet in order to continue withholding those documents.
The settlement money the Reporter’s Committee will receive will cover its costs and attorney’s fees.
Adam Marshall, who served as a lawyer for the group, said:
“This has shown that there are significant, concerning and ongoing issues with respect to federal law enforcement impersonation of the press in the United States … [The cases have also] shown that the Reporters Committee and The Associated Press were committed to finding out as much as we could about what happened here for the public to know.”