Report: FBI Still Investigating Journalist Michael Hastings


Michael Hastings sent a cryptic email to colleagues hours before his tragic death.

The FBI is still investigating “controversial reporting” by journalist Michael Hastings even after his death in June. The heavily redacted three-page report about Hastings was released after Al Jazeera and Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at MIT, had filed a Freedom of Information Act request after Hastings’s death. The FBI still considers Hastings’s work highly sensitive, and even the title of the case file has been withheld due to the ongoing investigation. The FBI opened the investigation into Hastings, who formerly worked at Newsweek, after a June 2012 Rolling Stone article called “America’s Last Prisoner of War” about U.S. solider Bowe Bergdahl’s deployment and capture by the Taliban. Bergdahl is still believed to be held by the Taliban.

Jason Leopold reports for Al Jazeera:

"The FBI documents also stated that in addition to Hastings' report, the agency also submitted one copy of a "blog entry relative to the aforementioned articles" and "one copy of Emails Express Discontent," which is an article about Bergdahl published on June 7, 2012 by the Associated Press that was based on Hastings' Rolling Stone report.

The "blog entry," however, appeared to be lifted from the comments section of the Idaho Statesman newspaper. The comment was apparently written by Gary Farwell, the father of Matthew Farwell, who contributed reporting to the Rolling Stone story and is identified at the bottom of the story as "a former soldier who deployed to Afghanistan."

The undated comment says, in part: "My son, Matthew, had gathered information for three years and did the reporting on the RS story. He introduced Michael Hastings to the Bergdahl’s and they interviewed the family several months ago."

Gary Farwell was unavailable for comment and Matthew Farwell declined to comment. Will Dana, the managing editor of Rolling Stone, told Al Jazeera that he is "concerned" about the FBI documents and said he was unsure why this report by Hastings sparked the FBI’s interest."

Within days after Hasting's death in a fiery car accident, an FBI spokeswoman issued a public statement denying he was under investigation, "At no time was Michael Hastings under investigation by the FBI."

The spokeswoman's comments followed an email Hastings sent to colleagues the day before he died that read: "The Feds are interviewing my close friends and associates." However, that email was referring to the "NSA," according to the subject line.

Hastings, who wrote for BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone, famously brought down U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal in a 2010 Rolling Stone cover story. He was most recently covering Edward Snowden's leak of the NSA's classified domestic monitoring program.

Leopold notes that FBI bureau spokeswoman Laura Eimiller -- who had previously said that Hastings was not under investigation -- told Al Jazeera she still stands by her original comment. "Being referenced in an FBI file does not make one the subject of an FBI investigation," she added, referring to the pages the agency released Monday.

You can view the 3-page FBI report on Michael Hastings online here.

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