After news editor boycott, U.S. attorney general loosens rules

WASHINGTON Fri May 31, 2013 3:49pm EDT

WASHINGTON May 31 (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder loosened his rules for speaking with media editors on Friday during a second day of meetings with them about his Justice Department's handling of investigations that involve reporters, the editors said.

Representatives from Reuters and ABC News met with Holder, the chief U.S. law enforcement officer, and his staff following recent disclosures that federal prosecutors seized records from two other media outlets without advance notice.

A Reuters spokeswoman had said on Thursday that the news agency would not take part in any discussion that was "off the record," meaning its contents could not be recorded or reported.

Reuters and some news organizations, including The New York Times and CNN, said they would not attend, but representatives of other news organizations met with Holder on Thursday.

Another meeting went ahead on Friday after Holder agreed its contents would be largely for publication, Reuters Chief Operating Officer Stuart Karle told reporters outside Justice Department headquarters. Karle attended with Marilyn Thompson, the Reuters bureau chief in Washington.

He said that department officials showed an interest in making changes to investigative guidelines on access to media records, but he said it was premature to draw conclusions.

"Long-term, I think they're looking for changes in how the rules operate and regard this as an opportunity to make sure that happens," Karle said.

The meetings were part of a 45-day review of Justice Department guidelines ordered by President Barack Obama after an outcry from journalists that the seizure of records from the Associated Press and Fox News compromised press freedom.

Prosecutors say they want to know who, in speaking to the Associated Press in 2012, exposed a covert agent helping U.S. forces against al Qaeda in Yemen.

An analyst who worked at the State Department, Stephen Kim, faces trial as early as next year on charges that he leaked to Fox News a story in 2009 that described the thinking of U.S. intelligence officials about North Korea.

As part of the investigation into Kim, the FBI obtained the emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen and described Rosen in a search warrant affidavit as a possible criminal co-conspirator. Rosen was never charged and the Justice Department said there were no plans to charge him.

Five news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, sent representatives to see Holder and his staff on Thursday.

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