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Dems, GOP blast gov't surveillance of news agency

US PRESS | 14 de mayo de 2013

View of the U.S. Department of Jusice, which seized two months of telephone records of The Associated Press during an investigation of a leak about an al-Qaeda terror plot that was thwarted. EFE

Washington, May 14 (EFE).- Democratic and Republican lawmakers expressed concern Tuesday about revelations that the U.S. Justice Department seized two months of telephone records of The Associated Press during an investigation of a leak about an al-Qaeda terror plot that was thwarted.

The seizure was a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into news-gathering activities, AP President Gary Pruitt said Monday in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

"The burden is always on the government when they go after private information - especially information regarding the press or its confidential sources," the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, said of the episode.

"I want to know more about this case, but on the face of it, I am concerned that the government may not have met that burden," the Vermont Democrat said in a statement.

AP said that the Justice Department has phone records for the principal number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Republican Bob Goodlatte, said he will ask for answers from Holder at a previously scheduled hearing on Wednesday.

Holder, however, told a press conference Tuesday that he had nothing to do with the seizure of AP's phone records.

The attorney general said he recused himself from the leak probe because he had been interviewed in connection with the investigation.

"The First Amendment is first for a reason. If the Obama administration is going after reporters' phone records, they better have a damned good explanation," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said Tuesday through a spokesman.

According to AP, federal investigators gathered information on at least 20 of its telephone lines in April and May 2012 about calls originating in their offices in New York, Washington and Hartford, Connecticut.

The Department of Justice contacted AP last week to inform the agency about the records seizure.

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