Image: AP

The US government’s secret seizure of Associated Press phone records had a “chilling effect” on newsgathering by the agency and other news organizations, AP’s top executive said Wednesday.

“Some longtime trusted sources have become nervous and anxious about talking with us,” AP president and chief executive Gary Pruitt said in a speech to the National Press Club.

“In some cases, government employees we once checked in with regularly will no longer speak to us by phone. Others are reluctant to meet in person … This chilling effect on newsgathering is not just limited to AP.

“Journalists from other news organizations have personally told me that it has intimidated both official and nonofficial sources from speaking to them as well.”

Pruitt spoke one month after the US news agency revealed that it had been notified after the fact that the US Justice Department had secret subpoenas of two months of phone records from its news operations.

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