FBI fined for withholding documents

In a case that spanned decades, a federal judge has ordered the FBI to pay nearly a half-million in legal fees for holding back documents a journalist requested.

According to the First Amendment Center, Seth Rosenfeld had to file two lawsuits to obtain documents detailing the FBI’s investigation of campus protests at the University of California Berkley in the 1960s. U.S. Judge Edward Chen ruled that the documents should have been released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Rosenfeld has used FBI documents to write articles on the investigations of protestors, and recently published the book Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power.

The $470,000 will be paid to the First Amendment Project of Oakland, which represented Rosenfeld.

Without a proper criminal penalty for violating open-government laws, attorney’s fees are the only way to punish agencies that refuse to release information.

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