Attorney General Eric Holder gave officials the green light to discretely seize private emails belonging to a Fox News reporter billed as a “possible co-conspirator” in violation of the Espionage Act, according to an NBC News report released Thursday.
The reporter, James Rosen, had previously "asked, solicited and encouraged … (a source) to disclose sensitive United States internal documents and intelligence information," an FBI agent close to the investigation said.
The search of Rosen’s emails, which occurred in the spring of 2010, came after Justice Department officials determined probable cause existed that the reporter’s communications with intelligence analyst Stephen Kim validated such a search.
The anonymous FBI agent later told NBC Holder signed off on the seizure.
Although Rosen has not been charged in relation to the case, Kim has been indicted on charges that he leaked classified information to Rosen about how North Korea would respond to a U.N. resolution seeking to clamp down on the isolated nation’s controversial nuclear program.
Kim has denied the charges.
Thursday’s disclosure came on the heels of President’s Obama’s major speech regarding counterterrorism policy – a speech in which he stated Holder had agreed to review Justice Department guidelines outlining investigations that involve journalists.
"I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable," Obama said. "Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs."