Judge rules Seattle media companies must hand over unpublished protest images to police


The Seattle (Washington) Times reports that it and four other news outlets have been ordered to  comply with a subpoena and give the Seattle Police Department unpublished video and photos from a May 30 racial justice protest that turned violent.

King County Superior Court Judge Nelson Lee ruled that the photos and videos were not protected by a Washington state shield law, but placed some limits on the subpoena. He said police could use the images to identify suspects only in the investigations of alleged arson of SPD vehicles and theft of police guns. The subpoena would also be limited to professional camera equipment and would exclude reporters’ cell phone photos and videos.

Seattle Times Executive Editor Michele Matassa Flores said the paper strongly opposes the subpoena and “believes it puts our independence, and even our staff’s physical safety, at risk.”

Lee set a hearing for July 30 at 9 a.m. to enter a final order.

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First Amendment, subpoenas, The Seattle Times