WASHINGTON, D.C. – Department of Justice attorneys have asked a federal judge to reject a request made by Project Veritas to appoint a special master in their case, which revolves around allegations of the theft of a diary belonging to Ashley Biden, daughter of President Joe Biden.
The diary was later presented to Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe by an unknown individual in an attempt to sell it due to “explosive allegations” contained within, but O’Keefe stated his organization declined to publish it since they were unable to confirm its authenticity at that time. Instead, O’Keefe said that Project Veritas turned it over to law enforcement.
Earlier this month, FBI agents had raided the home of O’Keefe, as well as several of his associates, in connection with a Justice Department investigation into the diary’s disappearance in October 2020, apparently on allegations that Project Veritas had a hand in the diary theft.
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Reportedly, at least two of O’Keefe’s iPhones were seized in the raid, as well as numerous documents, leading to a bipartisan group of journalists to condemn the raids as an affront to the freedom of the press.
The Privacy Protection Act of 1980 (“PPA“), protects journalists from being required to turn over to law enforcement any work product and documentary materials, including sources, before it is disseminated to the public.
Lawyers representing Project Veritas have asked District Court Judge Analisa Torres to appoint a special master – an individual who oversees one or more aspects of litigation – to go through the seized materials and separate specific files that may contain privileged information about ongoing news investigations unrelated to the Ashley Biden diary.
“The extraordinary actions taken by the government, most significantly the use of search warrants to seize newsgathering materials from journalists, appear to be founded on the premise that the diary does belong to Ashley Biden,” Project Veritas attorneys said. “That fact, however, does not warrant the exercise of federal criminal authority to investigate and punish journalists who merely obtained the diary and possessed it temporarily. The appointment of a special master to review the seized materials is necessary to protect core First Amendment interests and attorney-client privileged information.”
However, DOJ lawyers argued that they have already used their own teams to go through the PV materials, arguing that their attorneys have not explained “why that practice would not be sufficient here to protect any qualified journalistic privilege or First Amendment privilege.”
In addition, the DOJ has claimed that while journalists can publish stolen materials as long as they were not involved in the theft, they are pursuing the matter against Project Veritas because they believe they were indeed culpable in stealing the diary, and that they are not, in fact, journalists.
“Project Veritas is not engaged in journalism within any traditional or accepted definition of that word,” DOJ lawyers said. “Its ‘reporting’ consists almost entirely of publicizing non-consensual, surreptitious recordings made through unlawful, unethical, and or/dishonest means.”
Judge Torres has ruled that the FBI must stop mining data from O’Keefe’s seized iPhones and other devices until she makes a ruling on the special master request.
Project Veritas has sued The New York Times over a 2020 hit piece against Veritas released by the newspaper which has created a heated battle between the two news organizations that will likely put the New York Times in a difficult position to wiggle out of without a plaintiff win.
Project Veritas filed its response to the federal government in court today.
CLICK HERE to read it.
Project Veritas will not be bullied by the DOJ and FBI, and we will not back down.Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe