Update: On Aug. 16, 2023, the prosecutor in Marion County withdrew the search warrant and asked law enforcement to return the seized material to the Marion County Record, saying in a statement that “insufficient evidence” existed to establish a “legally sufficient nexus between this alleged crime and the places searched and the items seized.”

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, NENPA, and over 30 other news media and press freedom organizations have written a letter to the police chief in Marion, KS, condemning the raid of the Marion County Record on August 11 by law enforcement officers with the Marion Police Department.

The officers executed a search warrant at the Marion County Record’s newsroom and at its publisher’s home and seized the Record’s electronic newsgathering equipment, work product, and documentary material.

Based on public reporting, the search warrant that has been published online, and public statements to the press, there appears to be no justification for the breadth and intrusiveness of the search—particularly when other investigative steps may have been available.

The letter brings up our concerns that the search may have violated federal law strictly limiting federal, state, and local law enforcement’s ability to conduct newsroom searches and urges the immediate return of the seized material to the Record, to purge any records that may already have been accessed, and to initiate a fully independent and transparent review of the department’s actions.

Newsroom searches and seizures are among the most intrusive actions law enforcement can take with respect to the free press, and the most potentially suppressive of free speech by the press and the public.

Read the letter

Read more at Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Read more at Marion County Record

Read more at The New York Times

Read more at The Washington Post

Read more at The Boston Globe

Read more at Media Nation

Read the News Leaders Association statement