FBI Trying To Block Disclosure Of Responders’ Records On Orlando Shooting

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The FBI has asked Orlando law enforcement agencies who responded to the Pulse nightclub shooting to withhold records from the public, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

A June 20 letter from the FBI, attached to the City of Orlando’s lawsuit over withholding 911 calls and other records from 25 media outlets, requests that agencies deny inquiries and directs departments to “immediately notify the FBI of any requests your agency received” so “the FBI can seek to prevent disclosure through appropriate channels, as necessary.”

Barbara Petersen, President of the First Amendment Foundation, said the “FBI doesn’t have the authority to hijack Florida’s constitution, which guarantees us a right of access to all non-exempt public records.” The FBI cites a concern that releasing records would “adversely affect our ability to effectively investigate the shooting and bring the matter to resolution.” They also say the records could endanger witnesses and law enforcement officers involved in the case. Lawyers for the media outlets argue the records should be released because there is “a strong public interest in fully evaluating how first responders and police reacted during the most critical phases of this incredible tragedy.”

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