Federal judge finds probable cause Fox News reporter helped leak classified docs
In the wake of reports that the Department of Justice seized phone records from The Associated Press while investigating an intelligence leak, The Washington Post revealed on Monday that a Fox News reporter had been fingered has a “co-conspirator” in a previous leak of classified documents.
According to the Post, a federal judge found probable cause that Fox News Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen solicited a top-secret CIA report on North Korea from government adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim in 2009. The report concluded that additional United Nations sanctions would only push North Korea to conduct more nuclear tests. Rosen published details about the report the same day it was made available to Kim and a small number of others in the intelligence community.
Court records did not identify Rosen by name, but government officials confirmed to the Post that he was a target in the case. Both Rosen and Fox News declined to respond to the paper about the allegations.
In the court documents, FBI agent Reginald Reyes described a cloak-and-dagger system of communication and meetings between Kim and Rosen, including one or more “face-to-face” meetings at the State Department. The FBI tracked key cards to determine that both men entered and exited the State Department within minutes of each other.
Reyes said that the evidence showed that Rosen had broken the law, “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.”
Rosen had allegedly instructed Kim how to send codes through a Google account to signal if a meeting was taking place: “One asterisk means to contact them, or that previously suggested plans for communication are to proceed as agreed; two asterisks means the opposite.”
According to the affidavit, Rosen asked Kim to provide “what intelligence is picking up” so that he could break the news “ahead of my competitors.” He also said he would “love to see some internal State Department analyses.”
A federal judge agreed that there was probably cause that Rosen had broken the law and took the unusual step of signing off on a warrant for his emails. The case differs from the DOJ’s seizure of Associated Press emails because the AP is not considered a target in that case.
U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr., whose office is investigating the case, said that the government “exhausted all reasonable non-media alternatives for collecting the evidence” before going after Rosen’s emails, the Post reported. No reporter has ever been prosecuted for seeking classified intelligence.
A copy of Rosen’s report was found in “plain view” in Kim’s office by diplomatic security in September of 2009, and he later admitted multiple contacts with the Fox News reporter.
First Amendment lawyer Charles Tobin, who also represented The Associated Press, told the Post that the investigation was “a very dangerous road to go down.”
“Search warrants like these have a severe chilling effect on the free flow of important information to the public,” he said.