Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote a letter raising concerns about the FBI’s raid of the homes of Project Veritas employees in connection to a diary that was reportedly stolen from President Joe Biden’s daughter.
The letter, penned by ACLU attorneys Brian Hauss and Brett Kaufman, was written on behalf of the ACLU, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. It urges a judge presiding over a federal case on the FBI raids to consider the First Amendment rights of reporters in his ruling.
The organizations “write in support of neither party to urge the Court to affirm that the First Amendment protects a reporter’s right to receive and possess expressive materials on matters of public concern, even if those materials were unlawfully obtained by a third party,” the letter begins.
The authors argue that journalists should have the right to receive, possess, and publish materials that were stolen by another party.
“But, amici respectfully submit, the Court should affirm that the First Amendment necessarily protects a reporter’s right to receive and possess, as well as publish, documents, like the diary, that touch on matters of public concern and that were previously stolen by a third party,” the letter says.
“Opening the door for criminalization of journalists’ receipt or possession of expressive materials would result in censorious prosecutions under existing law and inspire legislators to conjure up disastrous new ways to thwart journalists seeking to expose malfeasance. Amici urge this Court to affirm that the First Amendment protects a reporter’s right to receive and possess documents on matters of public concern that were unlawfully obtained or disclosed by a third party,” the letter concludes.
The letter references a case before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Analisa Torres involving the FBI raid of the homes of Project Veritas employees, including then-head James O’Keefe, in November 2021.
Project Veritas had reportedly obtained a copy of a diary belonging to Ashley Biden but had decided not to publish it, instead handing it over to authorities. Other outlets later covered aspects of the diary, including the Daily Mail.
O’Keefe, who was ousted from his role at Project Veritas earlier this year, praised the ACLU for writing the letter.
“We are going to continue for the First Amendment,” O’Keefe said in a video response.
BREAKING: ACLU Letter to federal court SIDES with our journalism in the Biden Diary case following the FBI raid of myself, reporters Eric Cochran and Spencer Meads’ home. ACLU cites “undisputed” facts.
“Amici urge this Court to affirm that the First Amendment protects a… pic.twitter.com/OsicPu6xmd
— O’Keefe Media Group (@OKeefeMedia) June 6, 2023
In August 2022, a man and a woman pleaded guilty to selling the stolen diary, a proceeding that appeared to verify the authenticity of the journal, which reportedly contained disturbing passages.
Aimee Harris, 40, and Robert Kurlander, 58, told a federal judge in New York that they conspired to transport the diary from Florida to New York, selling it for $40,000 to Project Veritas just before the 2020 presidential election.