On Monday, Tampa Tribune investigative reporter Michael Fechter quit his job to work as a writer and editor for Steven Emerson, director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Fechter will focus on Islamic extremists.

For more than 10 years, Fechter, like Emerson, claimed in his writing that University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian was criminally linked to the terrorist activity of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Israel. Fechter did not name Emerson as a source. Emerson, however, used Fechter’s writing to bolster his own claims about Al-Arian, which critics suspect originated with tips from Emerson.

“We always had suspicions that Fechter was virtually an agent for Emerson,” said Ahmed Bedier, executive director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Now we know that their relationship was close enough for Emerson to hire Fechter and for Fechter to take the job. So much for objective reporting.”


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