DOJ accused of massive overreach, assault on press freedom in Project Veritas probe

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Choo Choo

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James O’Keefe, civil liberties advocates decry government’s use of sweeping search warrants.

“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”  Psalms 95:6 (KJV) 

The FBI and the Justice Department have overreached their authority and violated the First Amendment by secretly surveilling a media organization critical of the Biden administration, according to a journalist who’s been the target of a sweeping government probe.

In March, Project Veritas was notified by Microsoft, its electronic communications service provider, that for over a year the government had been secretly seizing and reviewing the media organization’s emails and other electronic information through sweeping search warrants under non-disclosure orders, according to a motion filed by Paul Calli, the lawyer for Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe.

Microsoft was able to notify Project Veritas of this surveillance only because the Big Tech firm’s attorneys resisted government efforts to renew non-disclosure orders and told federal prosecutors that Microsoft would pursue litigation to disclose these matters, the court filing shows.

The government attempted to keep the electronic surveillance orders under wraps even after its investigation became public knowledge and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York appointed a special master to supervise federal prosecutors’ access to Project Veritas’ materials.

Through the Microsoft search warrants, which were unsealed in March, the government seized nearly 200,000 Project Veritas emails and other files, many of which were unrelated to the Justice Department’s purported reason for initiating the warrants.

In September 2020, sources contacted Project Veritas saying they found a diary belonging to then-presidential candidate Joe Biden’s 40-year-old daughter, Ashley Biden, that had been left behind along with other belongings when she moved out of a Delray Beach, Fla. house subsequently occupied by one of the sources.

Over the next month, Project Veritas worked to authenticate the diary, reaching out to Ashley Biden and the Biden campaign, but ultimately decided against publishing its contents. However, an unaffiliated news site, National File, separately published the full diary in late October 2020, days before Project Veritas arranged for the diary to be delivered to the Delray Beach police department.

About a year later, in October, the FBI seized the electronics of Project Veritas’ sources and tried to interview them.

The following month, federal prosecutors obtained and executed warrants to raid the homes of three Project Veritas journalists, including O’Keefe, and seize their electronic devices. O’Keefe was handcuffed during the search of his home and required to stand in the public hallway of his apartment building dressed in his underwear, according to court documents.

Journalists are legally protected by the First Amendment for receiving materials from sources — even if the sources stole the materials before handing them over to the media.

However, the Justice Department has contended that Project Veritas was “actively involved” in stealing the diary and transporting it — a claim denied by the sources, who have consistently said it was abandoned at the Florida house, and O’Keefe’s legal team.

“The government keeps using the word stolen,” Calli told Just the News. “Don’t buy the lie. Someone has to make the government explain why they used the most invasive means possible on an American journalist and citizen. And over what? An abandoned diary.”

The trove of emails obtained by the government through the Microsoft warrants dates back to January 2020, some eight months before sou…

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