Society

FBI May Have Files on Michael Hastings, After Earlier Denials

| by Michael Allen
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Journalist Michael Hastings died on June 18 in a Los Angeles neighborhood when his Mercedes crashed into a tree for reasons unknown. 

The Los Angeles Police Department has released no statements since the accident, except to say that it is still being investigated.

Two days after the crash, FBI agency spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said: "At no time was journalist Michael Hastings under investigation by the FBI."

Eimiller added that it was "a departure from normal policy" for the FBI to go out of its way to deny an investigation, noted Reuters.

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However, now it appears the FBI may have files on Hastings after all.

According to the Freedom of the Press Foundation:

The U.S. Justice Department has indicated that the FBI has likely located responsive records pertaining to investigative journalist Michael Hastings, who died in a tragic car accident in Los Angeles in June, and the agency expects to finish processing the records in about three weeks.

The U.S. Justice Department strongly suggested the existence of FBI files on Hastings in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The U.S. Justice Department wrote in a court filing this week: "The FBI has completed its search for potentially responsive records and expects to finish processing the records by September 9."

Jeffrey Light,  an attorney for the Freedom of the Press Foundation, wants the court to "deny [the U.S. Justice Department] request for an extension of time" because of an "urgent need to inform the public regarding records maintained by the FBI about Mr. Michael Hastings."

Sources: Freedom of the Press Foundation and Reuters