Federal judge rejected Project Veritas' press freedom claims in the Ashley Biden diary case

 December 27, 2023

A Manhattan federal a judge has ruled that Project Veritas, an investigative journalism organization, must produce documents that detail the organization's purported acquisition of the diary belonging to Ashley Biden, the daughter of President Joe Biden.

U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres of the Southern District of New York ruled on Thursday in support of a special master's recommendation that Project Veritas be compelled to produce all documents containing information regarding how the organization obtained the diary in the autumn of 2020, as The Epoch Times reported.

In rejecting Project Veritas' arguments that it possesses journalistic non-disclosure privileges under the First Amendment and, as such, should not be compelled to hand over its records, Judge Torres rendered a substantial verdict.

The Legal Effect

As a result of the ruling by Judge Torres, federal prosecutors may shortly obtain access to over 900 documents that provide information on the manner in which Project Veritas obtained the diary.

Judge Torres directed a government evidentiary filtration team to separate and deliver to government investigators any documents that did not qualify for attorney-client privilege By January 5.

The legal dispute concerning the purported diary of Ms. Biden commenced in the autumn of 2021, when search warrants were executed by federal agents at the residences of multiple Project Veritas personnel, including James O'Keefe, the organization's founder and former CEO.

As a press organization, Project Veritas has argued that federal investigators ought to be obliged to return records seized from the organization, contending that the seizure violated their First Amendment rights.

Project Veritas had explicitly contended that previous legal rulings had shielded news organizations from accountability for disseminating information, notwithstanding the illicit acquisition of said information by an intermediary.

President Barack Obama's appointee, Judge Torres, ruled that such precedents do not apply in this case to Project Veritas because federal prosecutors are treating the press organization as an active participant in the alleged theft of Ms. Biden's diary, as opposed to a passive recipient of illegally obtained information.

"The Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects the publication of information by a 'law-abiding possessor of information,' even if the publisher received the information from a source who obtained it unlawfully," Judge Torres wrote.

"Here, the Government is investigating whether [Project Veritas and its members] participated in the theft of the Victim’s journal and the other items."

Origins of The Case

Defendants Aimee Harris and Robert Kurlander are the ones who found Ms. Biden's purported diary. Federal criminal filings indicate that "an immediate family member of a then-former government official who was a candidate for national political office" had kept the diary at a private home in Delray Beach, Florida, without mentioning Ms. Biden by name.

Project Veritas has argued that it was contacted by two tipsters, A.H. and R.K., who gave the organization access to the diaries.

Project Veritas went on to claim that the book was not stolen, but instead it was left behind by it's owner, and that its tipsters had discovered it.

“Project Veritas had no involvement with how those two individuals acquired the diary. All of Project Veritas’s knowledge about how R.K. and A.H. came to possess the diary came from R.K. and A.H. themselves," Paul Calli, an attorney representing Project Veritas, has said of the case.

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