Demand Government Return Secretly Seized Associated Press Phone Records

Target: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

Goal: Convince government to return Associated Press phone records and destroy all copies

The U.S. government secretly seized phone records from the Associated Press in an unprecedented move against press freedom and privacy. The Justice Department has attempted to justify the intrusion by citing vague matters of national security.

According to the AP, two months’ worth of records from 20 phone lines assigned to the AP and journalists were seized without prior notice.

The seizure appears to be related to a probe into AP’s May 7, 2012 report that the CIA was involved in stopping a terrorist plot on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, according to the AP.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that he recused himself from the probe because of a potential conflict of interest, handing the investigation over to Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole. Don’t allow Holder to duck criticism for allowing his department to overreach its power to violate press freedom.

AP president Gary Pruitt demanded in a letter of protest that the records be returned and all copies destroyed; Cole refused. Urge the government to meet Pruitt’s demand.

By signing the petition below you will help urge the Attorney General of the United States to return the phone records that were secretly taken from journalists in violation of the First Amendment.


Dear U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder,

The government seizure of journalist phone records from the Associated Press is unjustifiable and in direct violation of the First Amendment right to a free press. Taking two months’ records of offices used by journalists not even involved in your probe is an overreach. Those records should be returned and copies destroyed.

It is beyond belief that two months’ worth of phone records from a large media organization were necessary to protect American lives. The government has not only violated the privacy of the journalists involved, but the very backbone of journalism: source privacy and cultivation.

The AP is a respected media source for a reason; it has guidelines for publication. It has worked with the government to release stories responsibly. Your department’s actions have overstepped the boundaries of the law.

It is time to admit that the U.S. government made a mistake in this unprecedented seizure. Return the records and destroy the copies.


[Your Name Here]

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One Comment

  1. Vanessa Solis Vanessa Solis says:

    AP President/CEO called this a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into news-gathering, and it’s absolutely true. Using the nebulous excuse of protecting national security to secretly take such a large amount of data is absolutely a breach of press freedom.

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44 Signatures

  • Ana Maria Mainhardt Carpes
  • Ellen McCann
  • Darlene Roepke
  • Lynn Juozilaitis
  • Ann Blank
  • tam O
  • Mary-Carol Gales
  • Carole Mathews
  • Eveline Mutsaerts
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