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FBI reveals probe into how agency handled Jewell case

freeh October 29, 1996
Web posted at: 9:20 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Anthony Collings

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI is investigating its handling of the case against former security guard Richard Jewell, who has been cleared as a suspect in the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, FBI Director Louis Freeh said Tuesday.

"There is simply no justification for leaks of investigative or confidential material," Freeh said.

In a written statement, Freeh said the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility is looking into "any possible improper actions by FBI employees."

The office is conducting two probes: to determine the source of an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story naming Jewell as a suspect and to evaluate "the propriety of the manner in which the FBI questioned Mr. Jewell," Freeh said. He didn't say how long the investigations would take.


The Justice Department notified Jewell last week that he was no longer a target of the bombing investigation. His attorneys say Jewell plans to sue news organizations that named him as a suspect; he also is considering legal action against the federal government. The lawyers claim the FBI used trickery in interrogating their client without legal counsel present.

Jewell became the target of intense media scrutiny after he was identified as a prime suspect three days after the July 27 blast that killed one woman and injured more than 100 other people. He was hailed as a hero for finding the knapsack containing the pipe bomb and helping to clear the area.

FBI agents searched Jewell's home and interrogated him, but he was never arrested or charged with a crime. Freeh noted that the issuance of a search warrant didn't constitute evidence of guilt.

The director praised federal, state and local investigators who "worked tirelessly to pursue all leads and potential suspects." But he added, "There is simply no justification for leaks of investigative or confidential material."

Freeh said he has warned his employees in the past that they could be fired or face criminal prosecution for leaks.


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