Group sues FBI for records after Michael Hastings’ mysterious death

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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A journalist and a researcher have sued the Justice Department for access to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s records on the late journalist Michael Hastings.

The lawsuit follows the FBI’s failure to respond to separate Freedom of Information Act requests for records on Hastings submitted by journalist Jason Leopold of al-Jazeera and Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Ryan Shapiro.

Agencies are required by statute to notify applicants about whether it will fulfill their requests within a 20-working-day period of the initial application.

In the hours before his death, which was ruled an accident by the Los Angeles Police Department, Hastings emailed Wikileaks’ lawyer Jennifer Robinson that he was being investigated by the federal government.

Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs — who knew Hastings when he was embedded with Bigg’s unit in Afghanistan — told KTLA Hastings had blind copied him on an email sent 15 hours before his death, notifying colleagues that federal officials were interviewing his “close friends and associates.”

Leopold, a personal friend of Hastings, wrote in a piece published on the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s website that a government investigation into Hastings would not be a surprise.

“Given the nature of Hastings’s investigative work and the revelations that have surfaced about the government’s interest in journalists’ sources it wouldn’t come as a surprise to me if some agency was looking into Hastings’s journalistic activities,” said Leopold

The lawsuit was filed on July 26. Leopold told the Daily Caller on Monday afternoon that the FBI “has not responded yet.”

The Department of Justice did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.

FBI spokesman Christopher Allen told the Daily Caller, “FBI cannot comment on matters pending litigation.”

On July 24, Forbes revealed that computer security researcher team Chris Miller and Chris Valasek could wirelessly manipulate a moving automobile with a laptop.

Miller and Valasek’s work served to bolster speculation that Hastings’s vehicle was hijacked via a cyber attack, resulting in his tragic death on June 18.

Hastings rose to prominence for his expose in Rolling Stone magazine on now-retired U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal that ultimately lead to the general’s resignation.

Hastings also exposed an illegal U.S. Army psychological operation directed against U.S. senators visiting Afghanistan. The operation was intended to influence the legislators to appropriate more funding to the war effort.

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