An FBI agent who posed as a journalist during an investigation did not violate the agency’s undercover policy, a federal watchdog has concluded, according to a report in The New York Times.
The incident almost 10 years ago has been criticized by journalists, who say the practice impairs the news-gathering process.
The finding is part of a report released last week by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.
“The episode involved a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who posed as a ‘staff publisher’ for The Associated Press in order to infiltrate the computer of a person suspected of having made repeated bomb threats to Timberline High School in Washington state,” the paper reports.
“We believe that the judgments agents made about aspects of the planned undercover activity in 2007 did not violate the undercover policies in place at the time,” the report says.
The Times adds: “The inspector general also found that an FBI policy adopted this June requiring an agent to obtain high-level approval before posing as a journalist constitutes ‘an important and appropriate addition’ to its undercover policies.”