Privacy activist: Agent seized camera at federal building

SEATTLE (AP) - A Seattle privacy activist says a federal agent seized his camera this week after he took photographs from a public sidewalk near the federal building downtown.

Phil Mocek says he was walking to work Wednesday morning when he took a picture of what appeared to be unmarked or personal vehicles parked in a row of spots reserved for law enforcement.

Soon afterward, a white truck pulled up next to him. A man got out, grabbed his camera and started going through the pictures, as an officer from the Federal Protective Service and a private security guard watched.

Mocek called 911, and two Seattle police officers arrived but refused to take a report. Department spokeswoman Renee Witt says that was their judgment.

Mocek says the man who took the camera eventually identified himself as an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He returned the camera, but Mocek says one of the images on it had been deleted.

Seattle ATF spokesman Bill Perkins says the agency is aware of the incident but had no immediate comment.