[VIDEO] Police detain reporters, stop them from photographing alleged NSA facility where Snowden worked
University of Maryland (UMD) police on Wednesday prohibited two Campus Reform reporters from filming an alleged covert government facility where Edward Snowden is believed to have worked as a security guard in 2005.
Sergeant Aaron Davis, spokesperson for the UMD Police Department, told Campus Reform on Wednesday that his officers were acting at the direction of “NSA security” officials.
“We respond to them,” he told Campus Reform.
In a separate incident on Thursday, two other Campus Reform reporters were briefly detained on the public road outside the facility and required to provide identification to officers as a condition of remaining in the public area adjacent the building’s grounds.
“Do you guys have your ID on you?” officer Minkyu Pak asked Campus Reform reporter Timothy Dionisopoulous.
“Am I obligated to give it to you?” responded Dionisopoulous.
“Yeah if you don’t give your ID... [inaudible] you have to leave the area,” said officer Pak. “So if you don't want to give me your ID, you have to leave.”
WATCH: Police acting at direction of NSA security officials demand ID from reporters, detain them
In the Wednesday incident, however, UMD police banned Campus Reform reporter Katherine Timpf and contributor Spencer Schredder from filming on the public road outside the building.
“Don’t film this direction,” an unidentified officer wearing a bulletproof vest who was accompanied by another unidentified officer in a suit, told Timpf.
“You cannot film the area,” Officer “Walker” of the University of Maryland Police Department said several minutes later. “[Y]ou have nothing more to do here except leave.”
Sergeant Davis told Campus Reform later in the day that he was not aware of any laws or ordinances the reporters may have violated by photographing the building, adding his team was simply following the directions of “NSA security.”
Major Chris Jagoe of the UMD Police Department argued on Thursday that his officers are legally permitted to demand identification from any individual on the public university’s campus, whether or not they are suspected of committing a crime, using powers granted in Maryland Education Article 26-102.
NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines told Campus Reform she could not comment on why NSA security officials had summoned the local authorities to prevent the reporters from filming the building.
“I don’t know,” said Vines. “I wasn’t there.”
Neither Vines or the university would say whether or not the building, which is officially called the Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL), located on the school’s main College Park campus at 7005 52nd Avenue in College Park, Maryland, is a covert NSA facility.
According to a legal guide published by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), individuals are permitted to photograph federal buildings from public property.
“When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view,” according to the guide, Know Your Rights: Photographers. “That includes pictures of federal buildings... Such photography is a form of public oversight over the government and is important in a free society."
Campus Reform, on Tuesday evening, filed a request under the Maryland Public Information Act for all documentation pertaining to Snowden’s employment including salary, duration of employment, supervisor names, job discrimination and any reports of disciplinary actions.