Federal Judge Grants Request For Third Party Review On James O’Keefe’s Phones Seized by FBI

Project Veritas Screen Grab

A federal judge is siding with Project Veritas’ request to have an independent party review the cellphones that were seized by the FBI from the group’s founder James O’Keefe, Fox News reported.

District Court Judge Analisa Torres from the Southern District of New York ordered a “special master” on Wednesday to oversee the review of O’Keefe’s devices, citing “potential First Amendment concerns.”

“The Court recognizes, as other courts in this district have concluded, that ‘the Southern District prosecutors have integrity and decency,’ and the filter team alone could conduct the review ‘with utmost integrity,’” Torres wrote. “However, the Court determines that the appointment of a special master is warranted here because ‘it is important that the procedure adopted… not only be fair but also appear to be fair.’ … In light of the potential First Amendment concerns that may be implicated by the review of the materials seized from Petitioners, the Court finds that the appointment of a special master will ‘help to protect the public’s confidence in the administration of justice.'”

“The appointment of a Special Master over the objections of the Department of Justice is further evidence of Government overreach in their heavy-handed violation of the First Amendment and journalistic privilege during the investigation of the purported theft of a diary belonging to the daughter of the President,” a representative for Project Veritas told Fox News in a statement. 

“Project Veritas appreciates the ruling but continues to insist that the Government show the public why they conducted these raids and return legally privileged material immediately,” the representative added. 

The judge had previously ordered the Department of Justice to stop its review of O’Keefe’s phones pending Project Veritas’ request for a special master. 

The counsel for Project Veritas also reportedly sent a letter to chairmen and ranking members of congressional committees urging them to investigate what appear to be politically motivated and corrupt processes by the DOJ.

“These raids were not justified by any legitimate law enforcement concern. Project Veritas acted lawfully and within its First Amendment right to investigate a potential source of information relevant to the public interest,” attorney Mark Paoletta wrote to lawmakers on Wednesday. “The FBI and DOJ try to justify their targeting of Project Veritas by arguing that it isn’t a real news organization, and its reporters aren’t real journalists… This is absurd. Project Veritas is a news gathering organization that engages in undercover journalism, which has long been a form of investigative journalism used to hold the government, corporations, and other organizations accountable. And as a news organization, it is entitled to the protection the Attorney General promised in his memo. But more importantly, the First Amendment’s protection is not limited to those the government or other legacy media deign to call ‘real’ journalists. It belongs to all the people of the United States who engage in reporting and ‘press’ activities, whether formally or informally.”

Big League Politics covered the military-style FBI raid of O’Keefe when it first happened back in November. Since then the undercover journalist and Project Veritas founder has detailed what he has undergone throughout the experience, often repeating the mantra “the process is the punishment.”

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