WikiLeaks remains the subject of an FBI investigation more than six years after the anti-secrecy website began releasing classified government documents, the Department of Justice confirmed this week.
A records managers for the FBI wrote in a May 9 letter that documents concerning WikiLeaks sought through a Freedom of Information Act request were exempt due to ongoing law enforcement proceedings.
The FBI’s acknowledgment, sent in response to a FOIA request filed in November by journalist Ken Klippenstein, is a rare admission concerning a government investigation that began early in the Obama administration and is now in its sixth year.
Responding to the request, David M. Hardy, chief of the FBI’s Record/Information Dissemination Section, wrote that records being sought by the journalist are “located in an investigative file while is exempt from disclosure” pursuant to federal law.
“The records responsible to your request are law enforcement records; there is a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to these responsive records, and release of the information in these responsive records could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings,” Mr. Hardy wrote.
Mr. Klippenstein told The Washington Times Friday that he had already appealed the government’s rejection.
Last month, Chelsea Manning, a former Army analyst serving time for supplying WikiLeaks with a trove of classified documents, told a federal judge that the FBI should be compelled to produce documents sought through FOIA requests of their own.
Attorneys for Manning said in a filing of their own last month that the government’s explanation for rejecting the requests involved the creation of a “blanket” exemption, and that documents concerning solely the soldier must be released since she cannot legally be the subject of an ongoing investigation or reasonably anticipated prosecution, as either would violate her protection against double jeopardy.
Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, began serving as an intelligence analyst in the Army in 2009 and supplied WikiLeaks with documents later that year, including video footage of an Apache helicopter attack in which journalists were fatally wounded by U.S. soldiers.
She was arrested in May 2010, and the DOJ announced a national security investigation had been launched later that year when WikiLeaks began publishing classified State Department diplomatic cables supplied by the soldier.