FBI alleged to have targeted Guardian journalist as part of Wikileaks probe - Press Gazette

FBI alleged to have targeted Guardian journalist as part of Wikileaks probe

Guardian journalist James Ball has apparently been targeted by the FBI as part of its investigation into Wikileaks.
US website Slate has interviewed alleged FBI informant Sigurdur Thordarson, an Icelandic national who began working for Wikileaks as a volunteer when he was 17 in 2010.
Slate reports that Thordarson was "instructed to build relationships with people close to Wikileaks in order to gather information for the feds". The site says that in February 2012 Thordarson was put up by the FBI in a Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, and interviewed by agents:
At meetings in a conference room of the hotel, he was asked about a host of individuals who had at one time volunteered or worked for WikiLeaks in some capacity, including Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jónsdóttir; eminent computer security expert Jacob Appelbaum; and Guardian reporter James Ball, a former WikiLeaks staffer. 'They wanted to know literally everything there was to know about these people,' Thordarson alleges.
He says he 'mostly gave them information that was general knowledge'. But he admits that he turned over some email addresses, details about instant messenger accounts, and phone numbers. This information is useful to the authorities because they can use it to order surveillance of targeted suspects’ phone or email accounts. Since 2010, several individuals connected to WikiLeaks have had emails and other communications monitored as part of the FBI’s investigation.
Guardian data editor Ball is a former Wikileaks staffer who joined the title in 2011.
I … joined WikiLeaks several months after the arrest of Bradley Manning, and before any alleged dealings by WikiLeaks with hackers in Lulzsec. That means targeting me for the purpose of ferreting out sources was unlikely. My work at WikiLeaks was that of a reporter – digging into material already obtained for stories. So what justification does that leave for pulling me into that investigation?
Of course, investigation isn't prosecution. But between an unprecedented crackdown on sources, pressure on reporters, and dragging journalists into federal investigations, the White House is skirting very close to the edge of the attorney general's promise to Congress[not to prosecute any reporter for doing their job].



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Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette