FBI must pay $470K for journalist’s legal fees

Monday, October 22, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has ordered the FBI to pay a journalist’s legal fees of $470,000 after a years-long legal battle for the release of agency documents.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen ruled on Oct. 17 that reporter Seth Rosenfeld was entitled to the fees because he had to file two lawsuits starting in 1990 for documents the FBI should have turned over when he filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

The FBI eventually turned over the documents related to the FBI’s covert operations connection to the 1960s protest movement at the University of California, Berkeley.

Rosenfeld used the documents to publish numerous articles and the book Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power, which was released in August.

The award will be paid to the First Amendment Project of Oakland, a nonprofit law firm that represented Rosenfeld.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Rosenfeld had filed five FOIA lawsuits against the FBI, beginning in 1985, and that all but one has now been resolved. According to the newspaper, Rosenfeld was awarded more than $560,000 in attorneys’ fees related to previous lawsuits.

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