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15 Nov, 2021 15:00

FBI raids on Project Veritas ‘could have serious consequences’

FBI raids on Project Veritas ‘could have serious consequences’

The Justice Department’s recent raids on Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe and multiple associates “could have serious consequences for press freedom,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has warned.

The ACLU addressed the O’Keefe situation on Sunday, criticizing both the Justice Department and the conservative outlet. 

“Project Veritas has engaged in disgraceful deceptions, and reasonable observers might not consider their activities to be journalism at all,” the organization wrote in their statement. 

O’Keefe’s New York home, as well as those of multiple other current and former members of Project Veritas, were raided by the FBI last week. The raids were reportedly part of an investigation into a diary allegedly stolen from President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley and published shortly before the 2020 presidential election. The alleged diary contained details about drug abuse and other sordid information, though it has not been confirmed as authentic. Project Veritas was not the outlet to actually publish the diary and they turned it over to authorities. 

In its comments, the ACLU said that unless the government has “good reason” to believe Veritas was behind any actual theft of material, “it should not have subjected them to invasive searches and seizures.”

First Amendment activists have blasted the FBI raids and the confiscation of journalists’ documents. A judge ordered a halt to the extraction of data from O’Keefe’s devices this week, pending a hearing on appointing a “special master” to oversee authorities’ actions in extracting data, to make sure they are only focused on information relevant to a criminal investigation. 

The ACLU said in their statement that they agree a third party “special master” needs to be in place to supervise the extraction. 

The ACLU itself, meanwhile, has come under fire for waiting so long to comment on the Project Veritas situation, with some critics saying the “lukewarm” statement highlights the group’s partisanship. 

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