The Justice Department is examining the conduct of F.B.I. agents in Phoenix for possible improprieties related to their use of front companies to gather intelligence on China, the Middle East and the activities of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, an F.B.I. spokesman said Tuesday. The spokesman said the investigation was prompted by allegations about the front companies made by a former operative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Harry Ellen. Mr. Ellen said in a telephone interview that the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office had interviewed him about front companies he dealt with while providing investigative assistance to the Phoenix agents from 1994 to 1999. Mr. Ellen declined to provide further details but said he believed that the officials who spoke to him were on a straightforward fact-finding mission, not “a witch hunt or on a cover-up investigation.” Full Story
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