(Reuters) – A Kansas newspaper that was searched by police mentioned its 98-year-old co-owner died on Saturday from stress associated to the incident, which free press advocates condemned as a doable violation of the Marion County Document’s First Modification rights.
A search warrant, approved by a Marion County District Courtroom choose, mentioned there was possible trigger to consider there was identification theft and illegal acts regarding computer systems, in accordance with a picture of the warrant printed by the Kansas Reflector information group.
In a narrative printed on its web site, the Document mentioned the search of its workplace was associated to a reporter verifying a drunken driving cost towards an area restaurant proprietor, Kari Newell.
Reuters was not in a position to attain Newell or the reporter, Phyllis Zorn, for remark. Calls to the Marion Nation Document went unanswered. A recording on the restaurant and its web site indicated the eatery was closed on Sundays.
Reuters couldn’t independently confirm the warrant’s contents or the Document’s story.
“Careworn past her limits and overwhelmed by hours of shock and grief after unlawful police raids on her dwelling and the Marion County Document newspaper workplace Friday, 98-year-old newspaper co-owner Joan Meyer, in any other case in good well being for her age, collapsed Saturday afternoon and died at her dwelling,” the paper reported.
The Document mentioned in its article Meyer had been unable to eat or sleep after police confirmed up on the door of her dwelling on Friday with a search warrant and took away her pc and router.
Reuters couldn’t set up the state of Meyer’s well being earlier than the warrant was served and was unable to succeed in the Marion County Medical Examiner to substantiate the reason for demise.
Marion County Police additionally searched the newspaper workplace on Friday, seizing private cell telephones, computer systems and the newspaper server, amongst different tools, the Document mentioned.
Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody didn’t instantly reply to a Reuters request for touch upon Sunday. On Saturday, he issued an announcement justifying the search of the newspaper.
“As a lot as I wish to give everybody particulars on a felony investigation I can not. I consider when the remainder of the story is obtainable to the general public, the judicial system that’s being questioned might be vindicated,” Cody mentioned.
Such searches are extremely uncommon on condition that information organizations are largely shielded from authorities intrusion beneath the free press ensures of the First Modification of the U.S. Structure.
The Kansas Press Affiliation described the search as “unprecedented” and “an assault on the very basis of democracy.”
The Washington-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press additionally condemned the police search and demanded that every one seized supplies be returned.
“There seems to be no justification for the breadth and intrusiveness of the search – significantly when different investigative steps might have been obtainable,” the committee mentioned in an open letter to Cody.
The letter was signed by greater than 30 main media organizations, together with Reuters, the Related Press, the New York Occasions and the Washington Publish.