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Politico report raises questions on Biden admin’s respect for press freedom: ‘Beyond belief’

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A Politico report Saturday said the Justice Department‘s recent raids of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe‘s residence and those of his associates have raised questions about the Biden administration’s commitment to the First Amendment.

Josh Gerstein, Politico’s senior legal affairs reporter, penned a report explaining the details behind the FBI raids over the alleged theft of Ashley Biden’s diary. He also noted the objections from First Amendment experts who are raising alarm regardless of their opinions of Project Veritas.

Political activist James O'Keefe poses for a photo as he attends the New York screening of the Mike Cernovich film "Hoaxed" in Manhattan in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Political activist James O’Keefe poses for a photo as he attends the New York screening of the Mike Cernovich film “Hoaxed” in Manhattan in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The alleged diary of Biden’s daughter ended up in the hands of Project Veritas last fall, though the organization decided against publishing it and turned it over to law enforcement.

PROJECT VERITAS’ JAMES O’KEEFE SPEAKS OUT AFTER FBI RAIDED HOME: ‘THIS IS AN ATTACK ON THE FIRST AMENDMENT’

Politico quoted University of Minnesota law professor Jane Kirtley, a former executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, who described the raids as “just beyond belief.”

“I’m not a big fan of Project Veritas, but this is just over the top. I hope they get a serious reprimand from the court because I think this is just wrong,” Kirtley said.

Conservative political activist James O'Keefe speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 1, 2019. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Conservative political activist James O’Keefe speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 1, 2019. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Politico also noted that Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation tweeted against the raids, writing, “I don’t personally like Project Veritas at all, but imagine this was a liberal org under Trump. Not a good precedent.”

On Thursday, District Court Judge Analisa Torres from the Southern District of New York ordered the DOJ to halt the extraction of information from O’Keefe’s phones, which were confiscated by the FBI. The judge also granted the request from O’Keefe’s legal team for an independent “special master” to be appointed to oversee the review of his devices.

President Joe Biden embraces his family First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, son Hunter Biden and daughter Ashley after being sworn in during his inauguation on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

President Joe Biden embraces his family First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, son Hunter Biden and daughter Ashley after being sworn in during his inauguation on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“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,” O’Keefe’s attorney Harmeet Dhillon told Fox News. “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.”

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Speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity about the raid last week, O’Keefe said, “I’ve heard ‘the process is the punishment.’ I didn’t really understand what that meant until this weekend. And Sean, I wouldn’t wish this on any journalist.”

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.