A Manhattan federal magistrate judge has declined efforts by a journalism advocacy group to publicize details about the legality of an FBI raid last month on James O’Keefe’s home.
O’Keefe, who founded Project Veritas, had his home raided last month over the alleged theft of a diary belonging to President Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley.
While the FBI used a search warrant to seize O’Keefe’s cellphones and other records in the early morning on November 6, several First Amendment advocates said O’Keefe’s activities qualify for protection for members of the news media. But O’Keefe’s critics say his partisan bias and deceptive tactics disqualify him from being a true journalist.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press asked the court to unseal the search warrant materials, which included the application that was submitted by the FBI when seeking permission for the search. Magistrate Judge Sarah Cave ruled on Tuesday that for now, the records would remain undisclosed. Cave said Ashley Biden’s privacy was one factor to justify keeping the records sealed.
“The Court is attentive to the fact that the Government is investigating potential criminal activity relating to the transmission of personal information about a private citizen, who happens to be the daughter of President Biden,” Cave said. “Given the details about Ms. Biden’s personal information included in the Materials, ‘the privacy interests of innocent third parties’ – including the victim of the alleged criminal activity – is an important countervailing factor against granting public access.”
Reporters Committee attorney Katie Townsend said that the group is still considering the possibility of taking further action on the matter following the Tuesday ruling.
O’Keefe’s attorney said that the conservative journalist purchased the “rights” to the journal from two people who claimed they obtained it legally. No information was ever published from the diary by Project Veritas because O’Keefe said it could not be authenticated. He had tried to hand it over to an attorney for Ashley Biden, but after that individual would not accept it, the book was given to Florida law enforcement.
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
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