WASHINGTON — The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will receive a $145,000 settlement after a pair of lawsuits filed by FBI agents after they posed as reporters for The Associated Press and fabricated a story.

Adam Marshall, an attorney for the group, said long-running Freedom of Information Act cases led to appeals court decisions that would help expand access to public records. The cases also shed light on FBI agents posing as members of the media, a tactic that free press advocates say undermines the credibility of the media and undermines law enforcement and the press. blurs the lines between

According to documents in a lawsuit filed with The Associated Press, the agency failed to follow its own rules on such undercover operations when an agent impersonated an AP reporter and carried out a 2007 shooting in Washington state. Sent a link to a fake story in the investigation.

Then-FBI Director James Comey called the technique “correct and appropriate” under FBI guidelines at the time, though he said that when the 2007 incident came to light in 2014, his A higher level of approval would be required. No real story was published and an arrest, he maintained.

The agent posed as an AP reporter and sent a link to a fake article to a 15-year-old suspected of making bomb threats at a high school. When the teenager clicked on the link, a tracking tool revealed the location of his computer and helped agents verify his identity.

The FBI did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Friday.

Kathleen Carroll, the AP’s executive editor at the time, said in 2014 that the FBI’s “unacceptable tactics are undermining critical distinctions between the AP and the government and the press.” A letter signed by two dozen news organizations called the revelations “inexcusable” and the reporters’ committee specifically called out the AP’s use of the name as a “cover for the delivery of electronic surveillance software.” .

Associated Press spokeswoman Lauren Easton declined additional comment Friday.

The lawsuits were filed as part of an effort to obtain records about the FBI’s impersonation of news media, and ultimately led to important court decisions about how far agencies should go in seeking documents. And they must meet those standards to block the documents, Marshall said. The settlement will cover attorney’s fees and costs.

“This shows that there are significant and ongoing problems with federal law enforcement, press impersonation in the United States,” Marshall said. The cases “also showed that the Reporters Committee and the Associated Press were determined to find out as much as possible about what happened here for the public to know.”

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