San Francisco police obtained a warrant to search a freelance journalist’s phone records and were authorized to “conduct remote monitoring” on the phone more than two months before a controversial raid on his home and office, according to documents released Friday.
Officers executed the warrant on Bryan Carmody’s phone records on March 1 — the first of seven search warrants obtained in the investigation into who leaked him a report on the Feb. 22 death of Public Defender Jeff Adachi.
The revelation that police had broad authority to covertly monitor Carmody adds a new twist to the unfolding case that was thrust into the national spotlight when police used a sledgehammer to raid his home and office on May 10. Officers seized Carmody’s computers, phones and other electronic devices after learning he had sold the report to three television news stations.
It’s still not clear how police justified the searches to at least three judges, how police knew Carmody obtained the report and whether officers listened in on the private calls of a journalist after executing the warrant.
“The SFPD appears to have used the illegal warrant to spy on Bryan’s movements, phone calls and communications,” Carmody’s defense attorney, Ben Berkowitz, said in a statement Friday. “This is an alarming and deeply disturbing attack on the free press in an attempt to unmask Mr. Carmody’s confidential source.”
Read the full report here.