Hastings Sent Panicked Email Before Crash

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 23 2013 11:40 AM

Michael Hastings Sent Panicked Email Hours Before Car Crash

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Michael Hastings participates in a panel dicussion on May 1, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for The Guardian

Journalist Michael Hastings wrote an email to his colleagues hours before he died last week in which he said his “close friends and associates” were being interviewed by the FBI and he was going to “go off the radar for a bit.” The 33-year-old journalist said he was “onto a big story,” according to KTLA that publishes a copy of the email that Hastings sent at around 1 p.m. Monday June 17. Hastings died at around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday morning in a fiery one-vehicle car crash. Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs, who knew Hastings from Afghanistan, supplied a copy of the email to the network.

“It alarmed me very much,” Biggs, who was blind-copied on the email, said. “I just said it doesn’t seem like him. I don’t know, I just had this gut feeling and it just really bothered me.” The FBI has denied Hastings was under investigation. But WikiLeaks published a message on Twitter last week that said Hastings contacted the organization’s lawyers hours before he died, “saying the FBI was investigating him.”

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The email with the subject “FBI Investigation, re: NSA” reads:

Hey [redacted] the Feds are interviewing my "close friends and associates." Perhaps if the authorities arrive "BuzzFeed GQ," er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.
Also: I'm onto a big story, and need to go off the radat for a bit.
All the best, and hope to see you all soon.
Michael

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.