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Justice Department Reveals News Media Subpoenas

The Justice Department authorized eight subpoenas last year to news organizations for information in criminal and civil investigations, according to a report issued Friday.

Government lawyers also sought a search warrant and a civil investigative demand. Though eight subpoenas were authorized, prosecutors eventually elected not to issue two of them, and several sought material already published or broadcast.

The disclosures follow a 2014 commitment by the attorney general to make information public about requests or demands for information from the news media. It followed two controversial government actions against the Associated Press and Fox News.

In many of the cases cited by the report, the names of the reporter or news organization were not specified. One exception was the subpoena issued to New York Times reporter James Risen in the prosecution of a former CIA officer. At the direction of then-Attorney General Eric Holder, the government agreed not to ask Risen the identify of his sources for a book he wrote.

The report also says investigators were given permission to seek a warrant "to search the home and electronic media" of a person suspected of engaging in computer hacking. The individual was "treated as a member of the news media in an abundance of caution," but federal agents decided not to conduct the search.

In two other cases, the report says, investigators were given permission to question members of the news media. Both times the questioning was voluntary and not compelled, the report says.