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Late reporter's family rejects FBI records request

Written by: Staff
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WASHINGTON, Apr 20 (Reuters) The family of the late investigative newspaper columnist Jack Anderson rejected an FBI request for agents to search his files for any classified government documents, according to a letter.

''The family has concluded that were Mr. Anderson alive today, he would not cooperate with the government on this matter,'' the family said in a letter sent this week by Washington lawyer Michael Sullivan.

''To honor both his memory and his wishes, the family feels duty bound to do no less,'' the family said. ''He would resist the government's efforts with all the energy he could muster.'' Anderson, a crusading journalist who tackled powerful figures like former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting during Richard Nixon's presidency, died in December. Anderson, who reported for and wrote the Washington Merry-Go-Round column for more than 50 years, was 83.

After his death, FBI agents began discussions with the family about the contents of his papers, sources familiar with the discussions said.

The FBI agents expressed concern the papers may contain classified information and said the papers could help the government's pending case against two former pro-Israel lobbyists accused of disclosing classified information, they said.

''The US government has reasonable concern over the prospect that these classified documents will be made available to the public at the risk of national security and in violation of the law,'' FBI spokesman Bill Carter said.

Anderson's files are being transferred to George Washington University, and will be made available to the public.

''The documents remain the property of the US government, and contain information such as sensitive sources and methods,'' Carter said. ''Under the law, no private person may possess classified documents that were illegally provided to them.'' The government's case against the two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has raised questions about press freedoms because the former lobbyists, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, have been accused of illegally sharing information with reporters.

Journalists have been questioned or subpoenaed in the investigation of who in the Bush administration leaked a CIA officer's identity to the news media, and the Justice Department is investigating who revealed the existence of the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program.

REUTERS SC PM0432

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