Obama administration settles lawsuit over reporter's seized notes, promises new training

Associated Press

Training for Coast Guard criminal investigators will be reviewed as part of a settlement with a Washington newspaper over the 2013 seizure of notes from one of the paper's former reporters.

The newspaper and former reporter Audrey Hudson sued the government last year after her notes were seized during a search of her home by the Maryland State Police. The search was part of a weapons investigation focused on Hudson's husband.

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John Solomon, editor and vice president for content and business development for the newspaper, said the settlement includes some legal fees for the newspaper and Hudson.

"We spent a lot of money and a lot of time to defend the First Amendment," Solomon said.

The Washington Times first reported the settlement late Monday.

The Homeland Security Department, of which the Coast Guard is a part, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The government returned Hudson's papers last year after concluding she had obtained them under the Freedom of Information Act.

Solomon said the settlement also included assurances that the government destroyed any information it derived from the seized records.

The seizure occurred amid ongoing criticism of the Obama administration's efforts to root out leaks and the targeting of journalists as part of those leak investigations. It took place a month after Attorney General Eric Holder toughened the Justice Department's own rules for seizing reporters' phone records, notes or emails using federal subpoenas or search warrants.