FBI faces lawsuit over secret surveillance of prominent anti-war website
The editors of Antiwar.com on Tuesday filed a freedom of the press lawsuit against the FBI, seeking records the federal agency has secretly compiled about their activities.
“Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our democracy, whether it’s the Associated Press or Antiwar.com,” said Julia Mass, staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the site. “Government surveillance of news organizations interferes with journalists’ ability to do their jobs.”
Documents released in 2011 after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request showed the FBI investigated whether the anti-war site was “engaging in, or have engaged in, activities which constitute a threat to National Security on behalf of a foreign power.” The federal agency recommended that agents should “further monitor the postings on website www.antiwar.com” in 2004.
After becoming aware of the FBI surveillance, the website’s founder and managing editor Eric Garris and editorial director Justin Raimondo sought additional federal records about the site under the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). But the two editors have yet to receive a “substantive response” from the FBI, according to the lawsuit, in violation of the law.
“There is no reason for the FBI to be conducting surveillance on our news site. The FBI should be investigating actual criminal activity, not snooping on journalists,” Garris in a statement.
The lawsuit also stated that major donors to Antiwar.com withdrew financial support after learning the FBI was monitoring the site, fearing they too could come under surveillance. As a result, the site lost about $75,000 per year.
[Digital surveillance image via Shutterstock]