Was FBI Watching Investigative Reporter?
WASHINGTON (CN) - The FBI refuses to reveal details about Michael Hastings, an award-winning investigative journalist who died in a car crash last month and believed the FBI was investigating him, two fellow reporters claim in court.
Ryan Shapiro and Jason Leopold, sued the Justice Department in a federal FOIA complaint, claiming the FBI blew off their requests for records on its investigation of Hastings.
Just before he died, Hastings "sent multiple emails, including to the attorney for the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks, stating that the FBI was investigating him," according to the lawsuit.
Hastings, whose Rolling Stone article "The Runaway General" led to the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal, was killed in a high-speed car crash in Los Angeles on June 18.
"Since Mr. Hastings' death there has been widespread speculation that the FBI or other United States agencies (including the NSA or CIA) may have been involved in, responsible for, or have undisclosed knowledge relating to Mr. Hastings' death," the complaint states. "Public curiosity about Mr. Hastings' death is linked to the ongoing national and global front page controversy pertaining to the NSA and FBI's potentially illegal and unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens, a controversy about which Hastings himself recently wrote and which he continued to research." (Parentheses in complaint.)
Shapiro and Leopold are referring to Hastings' last piece, "Why Democrats Love To Spy On Americans."
The complaint states: "Mr. Hastings' death and the related controversies regarding domestic surveillance are matters of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist possible questions about the government's integrity which affect public confidence in the government."
Shapiro is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Science, Technology and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, specializing in research and analysis of "conflicts at the nexus of American national security, law enforcement, and political dissent."
Leopold has worked for three years as lead investigative reporter of a nonprofit online newsroom and is a regular contributor to Al Jazeera English.
They want the FBI ordered to release immediately all responsive records on Hastings.
They are represented by Jeffrey Light.