Photog Sues Feds for Heavy-Handed Raid

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – A photojournalist says the Department of Justice had police search her home and seize her work equipment because she took pictures of protests at a meeting of the International Monetary Fund.

     Laura Sennett, who specializes in covering protests and demonstrations, says her First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated by a number of federal and state defendants, including Attorney General Eric Holder, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Prince William and Arlington Counties and their Police Departments, and the Department of Justice. She also accuses them of violating the Privacy Protection Act of 1990.
     In her federal complaint, Sennett says she was not a target of criminal investigation, yet officials searched her home, seized computer hardware and data, digital cameras and memory cards, a still camera, digital storage devices, and a digital voice recorder.
     Sennett also says the cops also took other work materials and personal belongings.
     Sennett, who sometimes goes by the alias “Isis,” has been published by CNN and the History Channel, among others, and covered the International Monetary Fund spring meeting protests on April 12, 2008.
     Her presence was characterized by Arlington County detectives, in an affidavit, as an “unidentified white female videotaping/photographing the [IMF] event.” It says an unnamed source told she goes by the name Isis.
     On Sept. 23, 2008, 10 armed FBI agents raided her home in Arlington, Va., and seized 26 items. Sennett’s son was in the house.
     Sennett says no criminal charges have been filed against her, nor was she arrested in connection with the search.
     She says she suffered extreme emotional and mental distress and humiliation. She wants an injunction ordering the DOJ to return all of her stuff, $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.
     She is represented by Thomas Wolf with LeClair Ryan.

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