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WSJ Reporter Told HP Leak Probe Details

Investigators dug through a Wall Street Journal reporter's trash as part of a now-discredited boardroom leak probe that cost the chairmwoman of computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. her job and led to criminal charges.

In a first-person story on the front page of Thursday's newspaper, reporter Pui-Wing Tam said HP disclosed to her on Wednesday that it hired a security firm that rummaged through the garbage of her suburban home, hoping to glean possible details about her reporting efforts.

"I learned this -- and more -- as I sat in a conference room at HP's outside law firm yesterday in San Francisco, where attorney John Schultz ran through a litany of snooping tactics HP's agents used against me as part of its effort to identify which of its directors might be leaking news to the press," Tam wrote.

HP Chief Executive Mark Hurd promised in congressional testimony that the company would provide details of the leak investigation to all targets of the probes.

Over a year, the firm on at least five occasions also tried access her home-phone, cell phone and office records, Tam said Schultz told her.

On several instances, the sleuths managed to get a list of calls she made to her editors, husband and a reporting source employed by on HP rival, according to Tam's account.

"HP's agents had my photo and reviewed videotaped footage of me," Tam said she was told. "They conducted "surveillance" by looking for me at certain events to see if I would show up to meet an HP director. (I didn't.)"

Schultz also revealed they had carried out "pre-trash inspections" at her home earlier this year.

But Tam says there are a lot of questions that Schultz wasn't able to provide.

"How did HP's agents get my phone numbers in the first place? When did they review videotaped footage of me? Did their gumshoes park their cars outside my house at night? And what the heck is pre-trash inspection?"

It's not clear when those answers will come.

Tam said Schultz told her that HP can't yet provide a comprehensive picture because the security firms aren't cooperating with its requests to hand over information about some of the investigative work.

Tam wasn't the only reporter that HP agents snooped on. The name of Associated Press reporter Rachel Konrad also surfaced in the HP investigation. Konrad is married to CNet reporter Stephen Shankland, one of nine journalists HP has confirmed as targets of the probe.

Konrad, who has covered HP for the AP and previously for CNet, was named in a Feb. 10 memo from the investigators, who apparently tried to determine whether she had relationships with any HP director or the targeted reporters.

HP chairwoman Patricia Dunn and the company's ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker, who directed the boardroom spying probe, have been charged with identity theft and three other felonies.

Three outside investigators were also charged in the case.

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