The US Department of Justice collected the call history of reporters from The Washington Post during Donald Trump’s presidency, reports that newspaper on Friday. The creation of phone records took place as part of an investigation into a leak surrounding ‘the Russian interference’ in the 2016 presidential election.
The leak investigation took place at the beginning of Trump’s presidency. The Department of Justice, which also plays the role of public prosecutor in the United States, also tried to get their hands on the email history of The Washington Post reporters.
Journalists Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller and former Washington Post journalist Adam Entous received a letter from the Department of Justice on Monday informing them that the department has their phone records from April 15, 2017 to July 31, 2017. This concerns the call history of home phones, landlines at work and mobile phones.
“We find this government’s use of power to access journalists’ communications data deeply disturbing, ” commented Cameron Barr, the acting editor of The Washington Post. “The Ministry of Justice must immediately clarify its reasons for this breach in the activities of reporters who exercise their profession under the protection of constitutional freedom of expression.”
News media and supporters of constitutional freedom of expression in the United States have been critical of US governments ‘attempts to access journalists’ communications data to detect leaks for some time. This would, according to critics, restrict the freedom of the press.