The FBI has admitted to gathering secret intelligence about the annual Burning Man festival since 2010.
In response to a request under the 2012 Freedom of Information Act, the security service said its Special Events Management unit has kept files on festival-goers, known as ‘burners’ – to ‘aid in the prevention of terrorist activites and intelligence collection’.
But the FBI’s 16-page response to the question by Inkoo Kang is heavily redacted, with information about the technology being used to secretly gather the information being blanked out.
The revelation comes as the 29th Burning Man takes place in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.
The FBI document describes the festival as a ‘cultural and artisan event, which promote (sic) free expression by the participants’.
Scroll down for video
‘Charcade’L Samuel Coniglio controls the flames by dancing at the Charcade during the Burning Man 2015 ‘Carnival of Mirrors’
Skeeball of flames: People play a game of flaming skee-ball at the Charcade during the Burning Man 2015 on Tuesday
The Man: The eponymous ‘The Man’ stands guard over this year’s Carnival of Mirrors in the Black Rock desert of Nevada
Art: Participants interact with an art installation during the Burning Man 2015
The FBI said its involvement was ‘even more critical in the light of the ongoing war on terrorism and the potential for additional acts of terrorism being committed in the United States.’
But later the FBI warns: ‘The greatest known threat in this event is crowd control issues and use of illegal drugs by participants.’
The heavily-redacted document said that the Las Vegas FBI will work with all appropriate law enforcement agencies on the material it gathers.
The event is held in a remote area, branded Black Rock City, which is twelve miles from the nearest town, Gerlach, and 75 miles from Reno, Nevada.
MuckRock.com reported that Inkoo Kang submitted the FIOA request about he FBI’s involvement in the annual event.
According to the FBI report, participants, who are into ‘free expression’, pay a fee to enter the area. ‘Once inside, the participants access to the venues is unrestricted.’