Updated Aug 16, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Search warrant for Kansas newspaper withdrawn after backlash

A wall of the newsroom with front pages framed

Front pages from previous editions hang on a wall at the Marion County Record in Kansas. Photo: Luke Nozicka/Getty Images

A prosecutor in Marion County, Kansas, withdrew a search warrant after the raid of a local newspaper office and the home of its owners, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation said.

Why it matters: The police raid of the Marion County Record office last Friday prompted First Amendment concerns and was condemned by major news organizations and journalism advocacy groups.

  • The Bureau will work with the newspaper to return all seized items, per a news release.

Catch up fast: Police seized computers, file servers and phones in the raid, after a warrant was issued and signed by a local judge, the newspaper said. Eric Meyer, the newspaper's co-owner and editor, had his phone, computers and internet router confiscated.

  • The newspaper said the raid contributed to the death of its 98-year-old co-owner Joan Meyer, who died on Saturday after becoming "stressed beyond her limits," but was in otherwise in good health for her age.

State of play: The investigation into the Marion County Record remains open, the Bureau said, but it will proceed without review or examination of the evidence seized on Friday.

  • The investigation follows a complaint from restaurant owner Kari Newell, who said the newspaper illegally obtained and disseminated information about her drunken driving conviction.
  • The newspaper has said it had obtained the information legally from a tip and used public online records to verify details.
  • "I have come to the conclusion that insufficient evidence exists to establish a legally sufficient nexus between this alleged crime and the places searched and the items seized," Marion County Attorney Joel Ensey said in a statement.

Go deeper: Media giants raise First Amendment concerns over raid on Kansas paper

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details.

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