SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A statement issued Sunday by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists “condemns the recent raid by law enforcement of freelance journalist Bryan Carmody, in an apparent attempt to identify the confidential source who provided Carmody with a copy of a police report detailing the circumstances of former San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s death.
“During the search, law enforcement officers seized documents, notes and a slew of digital devices from Carmody’s home and office.”
Carmody said on Twitter at 8:27 p.m. Friday that police and FBI agents raided his home and business to try to get him to divulge a confidential source.
“I will not,” Carmody said in the tweet. Carmody’s tweet was tied to a news story about raid and the leaked report.
Police said Friday that a search warrant was served in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation regarding the Adachi police report, which they maintain was released illegally.
The search was “one step in the process of investigating a potential case of obstruction of justice along with the illegal distribution of a confidential police report,” police said in a statement later Friday.
“California’s Shield Law protects journalists from being held in contempt for refusing to disclose their sources’ identities and other unpublished/unaired information obtained during the news gathering process,”
SPJ NorCal’s Freedom of Information Committee, noting that state law “provides that ‘no warrant shall issue’ for any item protected by the Shield Law.
“The Freedom of Information Committee is seeking more information on the raid, including why these laws were not adhered to. That this search was carried out weeks after Carmody declined a request from San Francisco police to divulge his sources shows an alarming disregard for the right to gather and report on information.”
According to an official with the San Francisco Public Defender’s office during a Board of Supervisors committee hearing April 18, a freelance photographer allegedly offered a TV news station confidential police information about the death of Adachi in exchange for money.
“Journalists should consider the motivations of anonymous sources and news organizations should disclose when content has been provided by outside sources, whether paid or not,” the SPJ chapter said in its statement.
“While there may be legitimate questions on the circumstances surrounding the reporting of Adachi’s death, the seizure of any journalist’s notes or other reporting materials sets a dangerous precedent.”
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