State investigators will probe police raid of Kansas newspaper workplace

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has begun a felony probe of the police raid of a newspaper workplace final week that has drawn outrage from journalists nationwide who see it as a violation of the First Modification.

It’s not clear whether or not the state investigation is targeted on the native officers who performed the search on the Marion County Report or on the reporters and editors for the small weekly paper. The company stated it was requested by Marion police and the native county legal professional to hitch an investigation into allegations of “unlawful entry and dissemination of confidential felony justice info,” according to the Kansas City Star.

Officers within the Kansas city searched the newspaper’s places of work and the house of an area councilwoman on Friday, seizing computer systems, cellphones and recordsdata. The 98-year-old co-owner of the newspaper, Joan Meyer, died a day after her home was additionally searched; the Report attributed her death to the stress of the occasion.

After a police raid on a Kansas newspaper, questions mount

The search by Marion police and sheriff’s deputies — which Report editor Eric Meyer decried as “Gestapo techniques” — has elicited sweeping condemnation from press-freedom advocates, together with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which urged police to return seized materials in a letter signed by The Washington Submit and greater than 30 information organizations and press teams. Advocates have cited state and federal legal guidelines defending journalists, in addition to the Fourth Modification’s prohibition on unlawful searches and seizures by authorities officers. The Society of Skilled Journalists provided Monday to help cover the Record’s legal fees.

The newspaper’s legal professional protested the search in a letter Sunday to the city’s police chief, Gideon Cody, saying the seized materials was protected underneath a state protect legislation, and later forwarded the letter to the KBI.

A KBI spokesperson instructed the Star that it was the “lead legislation enforcement company” trying into the matter however provided no additional particulars about what prompted the KBI to turn out to be concerned or concerning the thrust of its investigation.

Criticism of the police raid has targeted consideration on Cody, who joined the small-town police power in April after wrapping up a 24-year profession with the Kansas Metropolis Police Division.

Eric Meyer said later that the Report had been investigating allegations that Cody had been accused of sexual misconduct in Kansas Metropolis, Mo., however the paper had not but printed a narrative about it.

Nonetheless, the police raid — led by Cody with 4 different Marion officers and two sheriff’s deputies — seems to have been triggered by an apparently unrelated matter.

The search warrant was issued by an area choose after a Marion restaurant proprietor, Kari Newell, alleged that one of many newspaper’s reporters had used an unlawful pc search to acquire sealed state data about her arrest and quotation for driving underneath the affect in 2008 — a disclosure she alleged was meant to scuttle her utility for a liquor license. Journalists are “not exempt from the legal guidelines they blast others for not following,” Newell stated in an announcement final week.

Meyer denied final week that the paper had obtained the knowledge — which the Report additionally had not beforehand printed — by means of illicit means or shared it with an area council member, as Newell alleged. He stated the data got here from a supply who individually leaked the knowledge to the council member, whose dwelling was additionally raided on Friday as a part of the warrant.

Meyer was unavailable for additional remark Tuesday.

The KBI’s director, Tony Mattivi, appeared to defend the raid in an announcement Sunday, saying members of the media aren’t “above the legislation.” He additionally referred to as freedom of the press “a vanguard of American democracy.”

In an interview with The Submit on Tuesday, the Report’s lawyer, Bernard Rhodes, expressed optimism concerning the KBI’s involvement.

“I agree the media isn’t above the legislation, however on this nation, it’s not unlawful to be a reporter,” Rhodes stated. “That assertion doesn’t concern me one bit, as a result of nobody broke the legislation.”

He added: “A confidential supply supplied a doc; we tried to confirm that, which one would hope a reporter would do. They’re trying to criminalize being a reporter, and that’s not what this nation is about.”

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