Journalist Computer Intrusion Lawsuit Filed Against U.S. Government

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST SHARYL ATTKISSON FILES CLAIMS AGAINST THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND U.S. POSTAL SERVICE FOR UNAUTHORIZED AND ILLEGAL SURVEILLANCE OF COMPUTERS AND TELEPHONES

Washington, D.C., (January 5, 2015)—Investigative Journalist Sharyl Attkisson has filed administrative claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act against the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Service, and certain unnamed employees and/or agents of the federal government. Attkisson has also filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia alleging certain violations of her constitutional rights based on information implicating the federal government in illegal electronic monitoring and surveillance of her home and business computers and phones from 2011 to 2013.

As outlined in the claims, three separate computer forensics exams revealed that intruders used sophisticated, remote capabilities to monitor Attkisson’s work. The intruders installed and periodically “refreshed” software used to exfiltrate data, obtain Attkisson’s passwords to various personal and work accounts, access the CBS News computer system, and monitor Attkisson’s audio using a Skype account. Forensics also revealed evidence of U.S. government-related involvement in the surveillance.

In May 2013, the Department of Justice issued a written response to questions from the news media stating, “To our knowledge, the Justice Department has never compromised Ms. Attkisson’s computers, or otherwise sought any information from or concerning any telephone, computer, or other media device she may own or use.”

Through a Freedom of Information Act request, Attkisson learned that the F.B.I. opened a case on her computer intrusions in June 2013, listing her as the victim, but the agency failed to interview her in the investigation or even notify her that one had been opened. Based on the government’s decision to ignore Attkisson’s requests, Attkisson and her family have chosen the only available option left to them.

Attkisson stated, “The personal rights secured by our Constitution have a long and accepted history. At the very core of those rights is the right to be free in our own homes from unreasonable governmental intrusion. Although I would have much preferred to have resolved this efficiently with dialogue and disclosure, until the government is open, honest, and fully truthful with my family about what transpired, we have chosen to use the only means available to us as citizens to try and force full disclosure and honest answers to the many questions that have been raised during the investigation conducted to date.”

The filing of the administrative claim is a necessary procedural step under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) prior to a citizen filing formal lawsuit complaints. Once the time for investigation is completed, the Government will be required to either take a formal step to resolve the complaint or litigation can be initiated. The administrative claim process is not required for the lawsuit alleging constitutional violations.

Attkisson is an award winning investigative journalist. She worked at CBS News until March 2014.

Please direct all media inquiries to Melanie Potts at (504)-610-0731 or by email at Melanie.Potts@thedmpgroup.com.

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