By Elizabeth Wolfe and Hannah Sarisohn, CNN
Attorneys representing the newspaper where slain Las Vegas reporter Jeff German worked are arguing his “journalistic materials” were unlawfully seized by city police, according to a letter sent by the attorneys and obtained by CNN.
The letter, which was sent last Wednesday on behalf of the publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the offices of the Clark County Public Defender and District Attorney, says the newspaper has “serious and urgent concerns” about protecting confidential sources and other unpublished work that may be on German’s seized devices.
Several computers, an external hard drive and a cell phone were collected by police as part of the investigation into German’s killing, according to the letter.
“The Review-Journal has reason to believe that its journalistic work product likely resides on these devices,” the letter states, adding, the newspaper “intends to take all steps necessary to protect and secure the unpublished information, including the identities of confidential sources, that resides on the Seized Devices.”
German was found stabbed to death outside his home September 3, according to police. Just days later, authorities arrested Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles in connection with his death.
The veteran journalist spent decades covering organized crime and corruption in the city. In the months leading up to his death, he wrote about allegations of bullying, hostility and inappropriate behavior in Telles’ office, which Telles vehemently denied.
Attorneys for the Las Vegas Review-Journal argued in the letter that the seizure of German’s journalistic materials violates a federal law that prohibits the search and seizure of journalists’ work materials. The law allows narrow exceptions if the journalist is suspected of committing a crime or the seizure would prevent a person’s death or serious injury.
In the letter, the legal team also alleged that investigators’ actions violated a similar state statute as well as reporters’ privileges under the First Amendment.
The letter demanded that “no person be permitted to review the seized devices,” called for “the preservation of all documents and records related to the seizure” and requested a meeting to discuss the handling of the devices.
According to the letter, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office and Telles’ lawyers filed a request to review the contents of German’s journalistic materials.
CNN has reached out to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Clark County Public Defender’s Office and the Clark County District Attorney’s office for comment.
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CNN’s Eric Levenson, Amir Vera, Nick Watt and Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.