"SPJ, RTNDA protest FBI agents' posing as journalists" - Freedom Forum Staff and Associated Press

"SPJ, RTNDA protest FBI agents' posing as journalists" - Freedom Forum Staff and Associated Press

by: | publication date: September 5, 2000 | Publication: Associated Press |

 Two journalism organizations have criticized the Federal Bureau of Investigation for an incident in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, last week in which federal agents posed as journalists. The FBI agents were trying to blend into a crowd so they could photograph neo-Nazi skinheads rallying outside the Coeur d'Alene courthouse, where the leader of the Aryan Nations white-supremacist group was on trial for civil rights violations. The agents were uncovered by real journalists covering the trial of Richard Butler. The Kootenai County sheriff's department revoked the agents' false credentials on Aug. 30. Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger admitted he initially directed seven agents to obtain media passes so they would look like news photographers covering the trial. "I was surprised it became an issue," he said. Advocates for the news media said it is dangerous for law officers to pose as journalists. Such deceptions could lead to physical threats against reporters, who are not armed, said Kyle Elyse Niederpruem, national president of the Society of Professional Journalists.  

The FBI is criticized by two journalism organizations over an incident in Idaho, where agents posed as credentialed journalists in order to photograph skinheads rallying outside a courthouse where a white supremacist group leader was standing trial.

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