NEW YORK – A judge in New York State temporarily banned The New York Times from publishing some material about the conservative group Project Veritas on Thursday. This is an unusual measure that the newspaper says is in violation of the protection provided in the First Amendment to the US Constitution for freedom of expression.
The order issued by Judge Charles Wood in Westchester, New York, relates to documents written by a Project Veritas lawyer, which the newspaper was able to obtain.
Judge Wood also scheduled a hearing for November 23 to consider a longer-term ban on publications, as well as whether the newspaper should remove all references to the information obtained in the context of the lawyer-confidential relationship. client and published in an article on November 11 regarding the journalistic practices of the group “Project Veritas”.
“This decision is unconstitutional and sets a dangerous precedent,” Dean Baquet, executive director of The New York Times, said in a statement.
“When a court silences journalism, it betrays the interests of its citizens and undermines their right to information,” he added. “The Supreme Court has made this clear with the issue of the Pentagon Documents, for which an important decision was taken against the prohibition of the publication of valuable materials by journalism. That principle clearly applies in this case as well. “We are seeking an immediate review of this decision.”
Mr. Baquet’s statement refers to the 1971 rejection by the United States Supreme Court of the former Nixon administration’s attempt to stop The New York Times and The Washington Post from publishing “Pentagon Documents.” , where the involvement of the American army in Vietnam was decomposed.
Bruce Brown, executive director of the Committee of Journalists on Freedom of the Press, called the ban “one of the most serious threats to press freedom” and said Judge Wood’s decision should be overturned on appeal if he does not overturn it. he himself.
“This is the first such ban imposed on The New York Times since the time of the Pentagon Documents and is a outrageous violation of the First Amendment,” Brown said in a statement.
Project Veritas is also involved in a Justice Department investigation into the role it may have played in stealing the diary of President Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley.
According to the lawsuit, the FBI seized cell phones this month, following a court order, at the homes of the group’s founder James O’Keefe and two former members of the group.
After Judge Wood handed down his decision to ban the publication, Mr. O’Keefe suggested in a statement that The New York Times applied very different standards of journalism to FBI seizures.
“The newspaper must decide whether it is in favor of press freedom for all, or just for itself,” he said.
Lawyers for the Project Veritas Group called for Judge Wood to intervene after “references, descriptions and quotes literally” from the documents of the group’s lawyer, Benjamin Barr, began to appear in The New York Times.
The group has also filed a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper, in connection with a September 2020 article describing a video circulated by the group alleging election manipulation in Minnesota.
In the lawsuit, the group Project Veritas called the November 11 article “an open retaliatory attempt to harm and embarrass the opponent in a legal process.”
The newspaper’s lawyer said Judge Wood should not have imposed an “inappropriate and drastic restriction” on the newspaper without giving it the opportunity to prove that Project Veritas’ claim was “factually and legally flawed”.
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