SFPD obtained warrant to launch secret surveillance against journalist in Adachi leak investigation

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- We are now learning the lengths to which San Francisco police went, trying to identify who leaked a report on the death of Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

The police department asked for permission and received it from a judge to launch secret surveillance against a journalist. His lawyers call it a "deeply disturbing attack on the free press."

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San Francisco Police raided freelance journalist Bryan Carmody's home and office three weeks ago, seizing 68 items including cameras, computers, cell phones and notes. The aim-- to find out who leaked Carmody a copy of the incident report on the death of Public Defender Jeff Adachi in February.

The report included photos of the North Beach apartment where Adachi died and details of a mystery woman called Caterina who was with him that night.

The search warrant released Friday shows police got permission from a judge just one week after Adachi's death to obtain information from Carmody's cell phone for the day after Adachi died-- "subscriber information, call detail records, SMS Usage, Mobile Data usage, cell tower data."

Glen Smith is with the First Amendment Coalition told the I-Team, "Just when you thought this couldn't get any worse, it has."

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Carmody's attorney Ben Berkowitz calls the warrant "an alarming and deeply disturbing attack on the free press in an attempt to unmask Mr. Carmody's confidential source."

The warrant goes further, allowing police "to conduct remote monitoring of the Subject Telephone Number device, day or night, including those signals produced in public, or locations not open to public or visual surveillance." Secret spying. Without Carmody's knowledge.

"It just shows a willingness to really push it to extreme limits in terms of tracking movements and getting a log of who you called and who's called you," said Glen Smith.

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He adds this is a clear violation of the First Amendment and California's Shield Law, which protects journalists and their sources.

It may also be telling that nowhere in this warrant is the word "journalist". Did the judge know? Did the police try to hide that fact? Police offered no comment for today's report, and would not answer whether they have found an outside agency to pick up the leak investigation, as the chief said he would last week.

To see read the warrant police obtained go here.

See more infomation about this story here.

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