00:57 GMT27 January 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The seizure of data from a New York Times reporter sets a dangerous precedent as it marks the first time that US authorities have sought to gain access to a reporter’s records since President Donald Trump took office, a journalists’ rights group said in a statement.

    "The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today expressed concern about the seizure of phone and email records from New York Times reporter Ali Watkins by the US Justice Department," the statement said on Friday.

    In what is mentioned as the first known incident of its kind, one of the federal prosecutors had gone after a journalist's data since Trump took power in January 2017, the statement noted.

    "In order to perform their public accountability function, journalists must be able to protect their confidential sources. Efforts by government that undermine this ability… represent a fundamental threat to press freedom," CPJ North America program coordinator Alexandra Ellerbeck said.

    The seizure of Watkins's data could be an opening salvo in an ongoing battle over reporters' ability to protect their sources, Ellerbeck warned.


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    press freedom, violation, spying, wiretapping, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), New York Times, US Justice Department, Ali Watkins, US
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