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City of Orlando and Associated Press Heading to Court Over Pulse Nightclub Recordings

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The crime scene at Pulse Nightclub

The City of Orlando and the Associated Press are headed to court in a controversial dispute over calls from the Pulse nightclub shooting. The city filed a lawsuit Thursday asking a state court for guidance on whether it can release the tapes to the news agency. The AP is demanding transparency, but in a letter to the city officials, the FBI urged them to keep the records under wraps as part of an active criminal investigation.

“The FBI is concerned that public disclosure of such records or information at this time will adversely affect our ability to effectively investigation the shooting and bring the matter to resolution; could endanger the safety of witnesses, law enforcement officers, and other individuals who have participated in or are otherwise connected with the investigation,” writes special agent Paul Wysopal in that letter.

To date, the FBI has released partial recordings, but media outlets are requesting the full recordings.

CIty attorrney Jason Zimmerman says the appeals from the media and federal investigators put the city in a tough spot.

“There’s a balancing between the integrity of the FBI’s investigation and the responsibility to be transparent. To us, it’d be better if we had a third party, a court say, ‘We appreciate what you guys are doing, but you should release the records or ‘We appreciate what you guys are doing, but don’t impede on the FBI’s investigation.”

The city has received dozens of requests from the media for the recordings.

The city says those recordings are exempt from Florida’s sunshine law because they depict the killing of victims.

The AP, CNN, The New York Times, and other agencies have filed a joint countersuit for the recordings.

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