Judicial Watch Files Lawsuit Against Justice Department Over Documents About Big Tech Censorship, Hunter Biden Laptop Story

Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Justice for records of communications between the FBI and social media sites regarding the Hunter Biden laptop story and foreign influence in the election.

The latest lawsuit from the conservative watchdog group came after they claimed the FBI failed to fully respond to an earlier FOIA request in August for all records between FBI personnel and employees of Meta, Twitter and other big tech companies. .

The August request sought communications about Biden’s laptop, media reports about the laptop, and “the threat of disinformation spread by foreign actors related to any US election.”

According to a complaint filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia earlier this month, the FBI acknowledged receipt of the original FOIA request in September but has not provided any further information since. The court filing noted that the FBI had until September 26 to make a final determination on whether to comply with the request, notify Judicial Watch of the agency’s decision, and produce the requested records or show that the requested records are exempt.

Hunter Biden’s laptop was at the center of a 2020 censorship campaign by Big Tech.
(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)


The FBI is “violating FOIA by failing to produce all records that respond to [Judicial Watch’s] request or demonstrate that the requested records are legally exempt from production,” the complaint says.

Judicial Watch requests that the court order the FBI to produce, by a specified date, all non-exempt records in response to its requests and award the class “reasonably incurred attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs.”

The original FOIA request came months before the so-called “Twitter Files” were released and revealed that the FBI coordinated with the Big Tech giant on content moderation, systematically flagging tweets it deemed problematic and wanted removed, especially those related to the 2020 elections.

The documents also showed that the FBI repeatedly asked Twitter if it had seen any foreign activity before the 2020 election, which the company said at the time that it had not. Then, the day before the New York Post published its story on Hunter Biden in October 2020, FBI officials sent ten unknown documents to Twitter via their secure one-way Teleport channel.

The Post obtained and wrote about emails from a laptop that the president’s son had abandoned at a repair shop in Delaware. The emails discussed his business abroad and mentioned Joe Biden meeting with a top executive from the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

FILE - Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference & Expo in Washington, Monday, March 9, 2020.

FILE – Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference & Expo in Washington, Monday, March 9, 2020.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)


Shortly after the story broke, Andy Stone, Facebook’s director of policy communications, bragged that the social media giant was “reducing its distribution on our platform.” He added that the story would be scrutinized by third-party fact-checkers “to reduce the spread of misinformation.”

Stone previously worked for former Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Meanwhile, Twitter quickly blocked users from posting or reading the story. The company even blocked the Post’s main Twitter account, citing “a lack of authoritative reporting on the origins of materials included in the article.”

According to freelance writer Michael Shellenberger, who released some of the Twitter files last month, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies had “repeatedly prepared [Twitter] to dismiss reports of Hunter Biden’s laptop as a Russian ‘hack and leak’ operation.”

Shellenberger also published a February 2021 email that revealed that the FBI paid Twitter more than $3.4 million since October 2019. FBI officials told Fox News at the time that the money was a “refund.” for “reasonable costs and expenses associated with your response to a legal claim.” process… To comply with legal requests and standard procedure.”

A split image of an FBI agent wearing an official windbreaker and the Twitter logo on a blue screen.

A split image of an FBI agent wearing an official windbreaker and the Twitter logo on a blue screen.
(iStock and AP Photo/Gregory Bull, respectively)


However, critics have argued that the money came from a partnership aimed at suppressing tweets and accounts from mainly conservative voices under the guise of countering disinformation and foreign influence operations.

“The FBI was literally paying Twitter to censor Americans right before the 2020 election!” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “The FBI appears to have interfered in the 2020 election to help Joe Biden by encouraging Big Tech to censor Americans over the Hunter laptop and other discussions. And to add to the scandal, they are now covering up his misconduct “.

The FBI did not respond to a request for comment for this story, but denied the collusion allegations in a statement to Fox News earlier this week.

“The correspondence between the FBI and Twitter shows but examples of our traditional, long-standing, and ongoing engagements with the federal government and the private sector, involving numerous companies across multiple sectors and industries,” the agency said. “As evidenced in the correspondence, the FBI provides critical information to the private sector in an effort to enable them to protect themselves and their clients… It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of trying to discredit the agency.”


Beyond the FBI’s communications with Big Tech, Judicial Watch has filed other lawsuits against alleged government censorship.

Judicial Watch is, for example, suing the Department of Homeland Security for all records of communications between the Cyber ​​and Information Security Agency, which is part of the department, and the Election Integrity Association, which was created to flag content online electoral campaign that he considered disinformation.


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