An American investigative journalist says armed federal agents raided her home and seized documents she used to report problems within the Department of Homeland Security
Award-winning reporter Audrey Hudson for The Washington Times said Maryland state police and federal agents confiscated her private reporting notes and government documents during a raid of her home on August 6, using a warrant served for an unrelated investigation.
The warrant had been issued to search for unregistered firearms suspected of belonging to Hudson’s husband, Paul Flanagan, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing since the raid.
The warrant, obtained by the Times, offered no specific permission to seize reporting notes or files.
Some of the seized documents chronicled Hudson’s sources and her reporting files about problems inside the Homeland Security Department's Federal Air Marshal Service, according to the Times.
Hudson, 50, said that during the raid, a Coast Guard investigator began asking questions about whether she was the same “Audrey Hudson” who had written “the Air Marshal stories.” Hudson said she responded that she was.
The Washington Times said Friday it is preparing to file a legal suit to fight what it called an “unwarranted intrusion on the First Amendment.”
“While we appreciate law enforcement’s right to investigate legitimate concerns, there is no reason for agents to use an unrelated gun case to seize the First Amendment protected materials of a reporter,” Times Editor John Solomon said in a statement.
“This violates the very premise of a free press, and it raises additional concerns when one of the seizing agencies was a frequent target of the reporter’s work,” he added.
When reached by the Times, Maryland state police declined comment, except to say that “evidence and information developed during this investigation is currently under review.”
The US Coast Guard confirmed it seized and reviewed Hudson’s files but insisted it did not violate any laws.