The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has condemned the government for raiding Project Veritas headquarters and the residences of its founder James O’Keefe and some employees. The ACLU coming to the defense of Project Veritas is quite surprising considering its questionable free speech stance in recent times.
Earlier this month, the FBI raided the homes of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe and two former employees. The agents were looking for evidence after the conservative journalism organization was accused of stealing Ashley Biden’s diary. The diary was reported stolen in October 2020.
Project Veritas did obtain the diary. However, it did not publish its contents and eventually handed it to law enforcement, according to Politico. However, another conservative website published multiple pages of the diary before the November 2020 presidential election.
In court, O’Keefe has argued that the raids were in violation of the First Amendment press freedoms. He asked the court to appoint a special master to oversee the police to make sure they only review evidence that was legally acquired. The court ordered the Department of Justice to stop reviewing the evidence until it makes a decision on whether or not to appoint a special master.
The law protects journalists from persecution unless the evidence was acquired through criminal activity. Project Veritas claims that its source acquired the diary legally after Biden’s daughter “abandoned” it, reported The New York Times.
The ACLU released a statement criticizing the government for raiding Project Veritas founder and employees’ homes.
“Project Veritas has engaged in disgraceful deceptions, and reasonable observers might not consider their activities to be journalism at all,” begins the statement attributed to Brian Hauss, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.
“Nevertheless, the precedent set in this case could have serious consequences for press freedom. Unless the government had good reason to believe that Project Veritas employees were directly involved in the criminal theft of the diary, it should not have subjected them to invasive searches and seizures.”
“We urge the court to appoint a special master to ensure that law enforcement officers review only those materials that were lawfully seized and that are directly relevant to a legitimate criminal investigation.”