Three American journalists will hold a press conference at Harvard's Nieman Foundation headquarters this morning to announce a suit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for confiscating books and papers they brought back with them after an assignment in Iran.
"It's a classic case of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and certainly one of concern to all journalists everywhere," Randy Goodman, a photojournalist and one of the three whose papers were confiscated, said yesterday.
Goodman and the others in the party, Teresa A. Taylor and William Worthy--who was a Nieman Fellow in 1957--will file suit against FBI director William H. Webster seeking to force the return of the materials.
She said that the crew, which went to Iran under contract to CBS this fall, purchased 11 volumes of material found by Iranians when they seized the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979. The books they purchased were on sale in bookstores and newsstands throughout the country, Goodman said. "They even had them in the airport stores," she added.
The FBI searched the party's incidental luggage and confiscated the books when they returned to Logan Airport, Goodman said, adding the papers have not been returned.
Boston FBI press spokesman John Gamel said, "I can't make any statements about that at all, except to say it's a pending investigation."
The seizure violates the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution, Goodman and attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union who will represent the trio, said.
The books were purchased "for our own reading," Goodman said, adding, "we had no plan to distribute them around the country or anything."
Some of the documents in the books are photocopied from documents seized in the embassy; others were reconstituted from documents shredded by U.S. personnel before the takeover.