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Saturday Jun 05 2021
Web Desk

FBI wants to know who read USA Today's article about agents’ murder

Web Desk
The headquarters of Gannett and the USA TODAY Network in McLean, VA. -Picture USA Today
  • FBI asks for information about readers of an article published in USA Today.
  • The agency is investigating the murder of its agents and wants to know who read the news article.
  • Newspaper's owner resists request, asks a judge to quash the demand.

LONDON: In an unusual move, the FBI has asked an American publication to share details about their users who read an article related to the killing of its agents, BBC reported Saturday.

The FBI has launched an investigation into the murder of two of its agents and has sought the information as part of the investigation.

The agency, according to BBC, demanded newspaper USA Today hand over its records on who had read the article.

“The newspaper's owner is resisting the request and asked a judge to quash the demand,” it said.

It was said that the FBI's demand is a "clear violation" of protections to press freedom.

According to the report, the FBI issued a subpoena - an order to submit evidence - to USA Today's owner Gannett, asking for information about anyone who clicked on the article.

The news report about the fatal shooting of two of the bureau's agents in Florida was published in February.

The FBI has sought the IP addresses and phone numbers for readers of the piece during a 35-minute window. Through IP addresses, the location and owner of the computer can be traced.

"The information sought through this subpoena relates to a federal criminal investigation being conducted by the FBI," the order, quoted by the BBC report, reads.

The newspaper has approached the court against the FBI order, pleading it to cancel the subpoena as it breaches the first amendment of the US constitution, which protects the right to free press from government interference.

"Being forced to tell the government who reads what on our websites is a clear violation of the first amendment," said Maribel Perez Wadsworth, USA Today's publisher.

"The FBI subpoena asks for private information about readers of our journalism."