Was the FBI investigating the award-winning journalist killed in a fiery car crash? WikiLeaks has reason to believe that could be the case.
The organization tweeted a message stating that Buzzfeed’s Michael Hastings, who was killed in car accident in Los Angeles on Tuesday, notified WikiLeaks’ lawyer just hours before his death that he was being watched by the FBI:
“Michael Hastings was a journalist who definitely gave the government trouble, the Pentagon trouble, so if they were surveilling him it wouldn’t be that surprising,” said friend and fellow journalist Cenk Uygur, noted KCAL-TV.
The FBI’s Los Angeles field office issued this statement to TheBlaze: “At no time was journalist Michael Hastings ever under investigation by the FBI.”
Hastings, 33, was also an author and war correspondent best known for his 2010 Rolling Stone profile that led to the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. The article won the 2010 George Polk award for magazine reporting.
The circumstances surrounding Hastings death are still a bit fuzzy.
A freelance photographer captured footage of a fiery car wreck in the 600 block of North Highland Avenue in Hollywood early Tuesday, according to KCAL-TV, and also recorded dashboard video that he believes shows Hastings speeding and running a red light before the crash.
But police have not yet confirmed that the person killed in that wreck was Hastings because the body was reportedly burned beyond recognition.
KCAL-TV noted that one friend who declined to speak on camera said Hastings was very paranoid that he was being watched by the FBI, but that it is too soon to speculate if his death was anything but accidental.
Officials say it could take up to six weeks before the official cause of death is known.
The Los Angeles Times notes:
In a statement released Tuesday, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith said he and his team were “shocked and devastated by the news” that Hastings had died.
The statement said only that the crash was in Los Angeles but did not specify where.
There was only one fatal car crash reported in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning, involving a vehicle that smashed into a tree and burst into flames in the 600 block of North Highland Avenue in Hancock Park, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The collision was so violent that the car’s engine was strewn onto a yard about 100 feet from the crash site, a photo taken by The Times showed.
Hastings covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, wrote for GQ and Newsweek, and authored a book about his former fiancee who was killed in Iraq in 2007.
“Michael was a great, fearless journalist with an incredible instinct for the story and a gift for finding ways to make his readers care about anything he covered, from wars to politicians,” Smith noted in his statement. “He wrote stories that would otherwise have gone unwritten, and without him there are great stories that will go untold.”
Here’s a report from KCAL-TV:
The following is raw footage of the aftermath of the fiery car wreck in question:
Here’s the dashcam video of a car running a red light, followed by the arrival at a crash scene: