May 24, 2019
Best of the States
APNewsBreak: Military prosecutors sent tracking software to defense team, reporter
Los Angeles courts reporter Brian Melley was enjoying a Sunday afternoon when a longtime legal source reached out with a remarkable tip in the case of Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL facing a court martial on charges he murdered a teenage Islamic State fighter in Iraq in 2017.
The source told Melley that military prosecutors, frustrated by leaks in the case, planted tracking software in emails sent to defense lawyers and a reporter. The unsophisticated software was quickly discovered by the recipients.
Melley worked up the story, including an interview with a military law expert who thought the tactic was ethically, legally and intellectually dubious. His story hit the wire the next morning, quickly gaining traction online. AP was widely credited everywhere it appeared and no major media outlet matched it.
For giving AP an exclusive on an important military justice story, Melley wins this week’s Best of the States award.