On Friday, a New York State trial judge has ordered the return of internal documents belonging to Project Veritas, which had found there way into the possession of The New York Times.
The Times has been ordered to "remove all reference to or descriptions of Project Veritas' attorney-client privileged information published on the Times's website on Nov. 11 2021," as well as:
"To return or immediately destroy all copies of Project Veritas's attorney-client privileged materials in the Times's possession, to refrain from further publishing Veritas's attorney-client privileged materials."
The court order further stipulates that the Times must "cease and desist" from trying to obtain similar materials, calling the newspaper's behavior "improper and irregular."
The Nov. 11 article in question "drew from the legal memos and purported to reveal how the group worked with its lawyers to 'gauge how far its deceptive reporting practices can go before running afoul of federal laws,'" according to Fox Business.
The Times had argued their case on First Amendment grounds, but Justice Charles Wood wrote in his legal opinion that what they published cannot be considered protected speech, as Veritas's rights to privacy and attorney-client privilege had been violated.
"Steadfast fidelity to, and vigilance in protecting First Amendment freedoms cannot be permitted to abrogate the fundamental protections of attorney-client privilege or the basic right to privacy," said Justice Wood in the unusually long 28-page document, which was harshly critical of the Times's behavior.
The Times, for their own part, ran an opinion piece on Friday, claiming that "“No court should be able to tell The New York Times or any other news organization — or, for that matter, Project Veritas — how to conduct its reporting."
It has been speculated and suspected (including on the comments to the Times's tweet itself) that they received this information in the first place from sources within the FBI, who raided the home of Veritas's CEO, James O'Keefe, on Nov. 6 2021, seizing two communications devices at the time.
The timing of the raid is in itself cause for speculation for many, since, on Oct. 30, Veritas had launched a defamation lawsuit against the Times.
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