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DOJ seized phone records for Fox News numbers, reporter's parents

 

Newly uncovered court documents reveal the Justice Department seized records of several Fox News phone lines as part of a leak investigation -- even listing a number that, according to one source, matches the home phone number of a reporter's parents. 

The seizure was ordered in addition to a court-approved search warrant for Fox News correspondent James Rosen's personal emails. In the affidavit seeking that warrant, an FBI agent called Rosen a likely criminal "co-conspirator," citing a wartime law called the Espionage Act. 

Rosen was not charged, but his movements and conversations were tracked. A source close to the leak investigation confirmed to Fox News that the government obtained phone records for several numbers that match Fox News numbers out of the Washington bureau. 

Further, the source confirmed to Fox News that one number listed matched the number for Rosen's parents in Staten Island. 

Rosen's father, attorney Myron Rosen, told FoxNews.com he found the records seizure to be "downright ludicrous." 

"My son and his wife call us all the time, and we talk about grandchildren," he said. "We don't talk about nuclear proliferation." 

He continued: "The fact that they had our phone records, it shows how crazy they are, how desperate." 

The government began to push back Wednesday on some of the information circulating about the case. The office of U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr., who is prosecuting the case, stressed in a statement Wednesday that his office "did not wiretap the phones of any reporter or news organization" or "monitor or track the phone calls of any reporter's parents." 

"We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when grand jury subpoenas are issued for phone records of media organizations, and strive to strike the proper balance between the public's interest in the free flow of information and the public's interest in the protection of national security and the effective enforcement of our criminal laws," the statement said. 

Asked about the documents, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told Fox News earlier that he "can't comment on an ongoing criminal investigation." 

The documents filed in October 2011 appear to show exchanges that match the specific locations of Fox News' White House, Pentagon, State Department and other operations. The last four digits of each of the phone numbers listed are redacted in the government filing. 

Among the numbers listed were several that start with the area code and exchange, 202-824 -- which is an area code and exchange for the Fox News Washington bureau. 

The phone information was included in a long list of numbers, email addresses and other details that prosecutors shared with defense attorneys shortly after the alleged leaker was indicted. The document said the government had already obtained a trove of material from the defendant, Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, including his passport applications, State Department badge records, emails, computer and hard drive. 

Click to read the documents

Meanwhile, the White House Correspondents' Association spoke out on incidents involving two news organizations. The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of phone records from the Associated Press and obtained a search warrant for the personal emails of Fox News' James Rosen. The information about the phone records was uncovered Tuesday.

In the latter case, an FBI agent also claimed in an affidavit that Rosen was possibly a criminal "co-conspirator." 

Though no charges were brought against Rosen, the White House Correspondents' Association said no journalist should even face that threat for doing their job. 

"Reporters should never be threatened with prosecution for the simple act of doing their jobs," the WHCA said in a statement Tuesday. "The problem is that in two recent cases, one involving Fox News' James Rosen and the other focused on the Associated Press, serious questions have been raised about whether our government has gotten far too aggressive in its monitoring of reporters' movements, phone records, and even personal email."

The statement went on: "We do not know all of the facts in these cases, so we will just say this in general: Our country was founded on the principle of freedom of the press and nothing is more sacred to our profession. So we stand in strong solidarity with our colleagues who have been scrutinized. And in terms of the administration, ultimately what will matter more in all of these cases is action not words."

Earlier, Carney said President Obama believes reporters shouldn't be prosecuted for doing their jobs. The association said it agreed. 

The WHCA's board is led by Fox News' Ed Henry. 

The statement comes after court documents showed the Justice Department obtained a portfolio of information about Rosen's conversations and visits to the State Department. This included a search warrant for his personal emails. 

In an affidavit, an FBI agent claimed there's evidence the Fox News correspondent broke the law, "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator." 

Michael Clemente, Fox News' executive vice president of news, defended Rosen in a statement issued Monday afternoon. 

"We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter," Clemente said. "In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press." 

In the case involving Rosen, a government adviser was accused of leaking information after a 2009 story was published online which said North Korea planned to respond to looming U.N. sanctions with another nuclear test. 

Rosen said Monday that "as a reporter, I always honor the confidentiality of my dealings with all of my sources."

The Department of Justice said in a statement that "leaks of classified information to the press can pose a serious risk of harm to our national security and it is important that we pursue these matters using appropriate law enforcement tools."

The U.S. attorney's office for the District of Columbia also said the government, before seeking approval for the search warrant, "exhausted all reasonable non-media alternatives for collecting this evidence."

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Fox News' Bret Baier and FoxNews.com's Judson Berger contributed to this report.