Police raid Kansas newspaper, causing press freedom concerns

by ian

First Amendment questions are being raised over a police raid on a small-town Kansas newspaper.

On Friday, police seized material at the Marion County Record, which is located about 60 miles north of Wichita.  The authorities were carrying out a search warrant alleging identity theft and “unlawful acts concerning computers.”

At issue was a tip that a local coffee shop owner had been driving without a driver’s license for more than a decade following a DUI. But the story was never published. Instead, citing the unknown origins of the tip, co-owner Eric Meyer reported the information to the police even though the claim could have been verified through public records.

The police later informed the coffee shop owner, who accused the paper of stealing personal information. According to Axios, police seized computers, file servers, and phones.

They also raided the home of 98-year old co-own Joan Meyer, who died less than 24 hours later. The paper cited the shock of the raid as contributing to her death.

A number of press associations have condemned the raid as authoritarian. Meyer intends to sue the city.