A judge ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to stop extracting data from the devices of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe until she can appoint an official to oversee the process.
The official, known as a special master, will separate legally protected information related to journalistic activity and legal communications from communications related to Ashley Biden’s diary, which was published by the National File in the waning days of the 2020 presidential campaign. The FBI searched O’Keefe’s apartment on Nov. 6 as part of its probe into the diary. Federal agents also executed warrants at the New York City homes of two other Project Veritas employees.
The judge’s order, issued Thursday, is a major win for O’Keefe, his attorney Harmeet Dhillon told Fox News.
“We are gratified that the Department of Justice has been ordered to stop extracting and reviewing confidential and privileged information obtained in their raids of our reporters, including legal, donor, and confidential source communications,” she said. “The First Amendment won a temporary victory today, but Project Veritas has a long way to go to hold the DOJ and FBI accountable for their actions.”
BREAKING! The federal court has just ordered the DOJ to STOP extracting data from our client, journalist James O’Keefe’s phone, and ordered a hearing. Counsel for Project Veritas asked the court to do this yesterday! pic.twitter.com/nBrmf4myuj
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) November 11, 2021
O’Keefe has denied any wrongdoing related to the publication of the diary.
“Our efforts were the stuff of responsible ethical journalism, and we are in no doubt that Project Veritas acted properly at each and every step,” he said in a video statement posted to YouTube on Nov. 5, adding that Project Veritas’ “legal team previously contacted the Department of Justice and voluntarily conveyed unassailable facts that demonstrate project veritas’s lack of involvement in criminal activity.”
O’Keefe went on to reveal that a New York Times (NYT) reporter “contacted the Project Veritas reporter… within an hour” of the FBI’s search, despite the fact that the “grand jury investigation [was] secret.”
Project Veritas is currently suing NYT for defamation over the newspaper’s characterization of the group’s coverage of an alleged ballot-harvesting operation as part of a “coordinated disinformation campaign.” NYT obtained memos written by Project Veritas’ attorney and published quotes from them in a Thursday article. (RELATED: NY Supreme Court Sides With Project Veritas, Allows Group To Depose New York Times)
Dhillon blasted the publication, describing their possession of the documents as “illegal and unethical.”
“It’s really despicable,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this low from the NYT before, to publish people’s private legal communications.”