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Journalist Michael Hastings’ work continues to be investigated by the FBI, even after the reporter’s death, Al Jazeera America reports.
According to a report filed Monday evening, the FBI has released declassified documents that reveal a continued investigation into what it calls “controversial reporting” by the Rolling Stone contributor. Hastings died in a late-night Los Angeles car crash in June.
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The three-page doc was turned over to Al Jazeera and Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in FOIA research, in response to a joint Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the FBI.
The document is said to be “heavily redacted,” with one excerpt marked “S” (for “secret”) and “Per Army,” under an exemption intended to protect national security. Additional redactions reportedly were used to protect techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations and prosecutions.
According to the document, the FBI’s Washington field office opened a file and submitted “unclassified media articles” on June 11, 2012, in an effort to “memorialize controversial reporting by Rolling Stone magazine on June 7, 2012.” The aforementioned article included an investigative report by Hastings titled “America’s Last Prisoner of War,” about a 27-year-old U.S. soldier named Bowe Bergdahl, who was deployed to the war in Afghanistan and captured by the Taliban in June 2009. He is believed to still be in custody of the Taliban.
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Also mentioned in the document is a “blog entry relative to the aforementioned articles” and “one copy of Emails Express Discontent,” referring to a June 7, 2012, article by The Associated Press that is based on Hastings’ Rolling Stone feature.
Three days after Hastings’ untimely death, the FBI issued a public statement to deny allegations that Hastings had been under investigation. Now, a spokeswomen for the FBI’s Los Angeles office is standing by that original statement.
“Being referenced in an FBI file does not make one the subject of an FBI investigation,” she told Al Jazeera on Monday.
Additionally, the FBI issued the following statement in a letter accompanying the released documents: “A search of the FBI Headquarters electronic surveillance indices has been conducted, and no responsive record which indicates that Michael Hastings has ever been the target of electronic surveillance was located.”
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