AP demands answers from US government over tracking of journalists

Follow RT on The Associated Press has filed a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), seeking explanations over its use of a sensitive government database intended for tracking terrorists to investigate American journalists.

Last week, a 500-page report by the DHS inspector general revealed that a special unit inside Customs and Border Protection had run more than 20 American journalists, including AP’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Martha Mendoza, through the database. The unit, called the Counter Network Division, also looked into congressional staffers and allegedly Congress members themselves.

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“This is a flagrant example of a federal agency using its power to examine the contacts of journalists,” Julie Pace, AP executive director, wrote in a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday.

The actions in question occurred under the Trump administration, but they were still concerning due to being described in the report as “routine,” she pointed out.

Pace called upon the government to make “assurances that these improper practices and apparent abuse of power will not continue going forward.”

In another statement, separate from Pace’s letter, AP reiterated its demand that the DHS stop using the database against the media workers. “Journalists being targeted for simply doing their jobs… is a violation of the First Amendment,” the news agency pointed out.

Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Espinosa insisted on Monday that Mayorkas was “deeply committed to ensuring the protection of First Amendment rights.”

“We don’t condone the investigation of reporters in response to the exercise of First Amendment rights,” she said, adding that all departments in the DHS “will ensure their practices are consistent with our values and our highest standards.”

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