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FBI Tells Florida Agencies Not to Fulfill Records Requests on Orlando Terrorist Attack — but Why?

A spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office told the Sentinel that the FBI sent them the letter and "instructed us to forward it to anyone requesting records."

A man plants a Pride flag at a makeshift memorial prior to an evening vigil for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shootings, at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, June 13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The shooting at Pulse Nightclub, which killed 49 people and injured 53, is the worst mass-shooting event in American history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The FBI has asked law enforcement agencies who responded to the terrorist attack at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub not to release records to the public, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

A woman writes a note on a cross at a memorial next to the Orlando Regional Medical Center with wooden crosses for each of the 49 victims of the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In a June 20 letter from the FBI to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office obtained by the Sentinel, the agency requests that law enforcement "immediately notify the FBI of any [records] requests your agency received" so "the FBI can seek to prevent disclosure through appropriate channels, as necessary."

A spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office told the Sentinel that the FBI sent them the letter and "instructed us to forward it to anyone requesting records."

In the letter, the FBI contended that releasing records would "adversely affect our ability to effectively investigate the shooting and bring the matter to resolution."

The letter also claims that releasing records could jeopardize the safety of witnesses and first responders.

Paul Wysopal, a special agent in the FBI's Tampa field office who signed the letter, refused the Sentinel’s request for comment.

Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, told the Sentinel that the "FBI doesn't have the authority to hijack Florida's Constitution, which guarantees us a right of access to all non-exempt public records."

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