A federal judge has ordered the Department of Justice to halt extracting data from Veritas founder James O’Keefe’s phone after the FBI raid of his home last week raised first amendment questions.
The FBI raided O’Keefe’s home last Thursday, carrying out a court order in the case of Ashley Biden’s allegedly stolen diary. The documents from the diary were obtained by Veritas, which never published any information related to the diary. Veritas later turned the documents over to police.
The raid prompted backlash against the DOJ and the Biden administration, with critics pointing out that President Biden campaigned on a platform of press freedom. O’Keefe, the founder of Veritas, a highly controversial media company that has previously come under fire for allegedly doctoring videos to spur political unrest, told Fox News’ Sean Hannity he was awoken before dawn to banging on his door.
He said he was subsequently handcuffed while the FBI confiscated his personal phone, which he said contained confidential information from sources related to his reporting, and private donor information to the organization. O’Keefe’s lawyers wrote to prosecutors, “The Department of Justice’s use of a search warrant to seize a reporter’s notes and work product violates decades of established Supreme Court precedent.”
The ACLU has joined in the backlash, with Senior Staff Attorney releasing a statement the day of the raid, saying, “Project Veritas has engaged in disgraceful deceptions, and reasonable observers might not consider their activities to be journalism at all. Nevertheless, the precedent set in this case could have serious consequences for press freedom.”
The federal judge’s decision is a temporary win for O’Keefe and his legal team. O’Keefe’s attorney Harmeet Dhillon told Fox News, “We are gratified that the Department of Justice has been ordered to stop extracting and reviewing confidential and privileged information obtained in their raids of our reporters, including legal, donor, and confidential source communications.”
O’Keefe’s team has requested the data from the phones be extracted under the supervision of an expert. The DOJ was given one day by a US District Court judge to confirm they had “paused [their] extraction and review of the contents” on the phone.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: REDSTATE.COM
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