Project Veritas, a publication known for hidden-camera sting operations and whistleblower-based reports, said on Wednesday the Department of Justice secretly acquired personal information on its employees from multiple tech companies while investigating how the outlet obtained a diary that reportedly belonged to President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley.
Project Veritas recently became aware of nine subpoenas and warrants issued by the department from November 2020 to March 2021, its founder James O’Keefe said. The DOJ allegedly obtained payment information and browsing history from Apple and Google, and ordered the companies not to disclose the government’s actions.
Project Veritas said Apple notified the company that it had responded to multiple legal requests for “customer data,” adding that they were allowed “delayed notice to the affected customer.”
Additional data obtained included messaging from sources about tips that were completely unrelated to the Biden diary story.
Project Veritas filed a motion with the court demanding the DOJ return all computer equipment seized from Project Veritas personnel’s homes in November.
The Associated Press reported that a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment on the new information. An Apple spokesperson also declined to comment.
Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement that the tech company doesn’t “comment on specific cases,” but maintained that it is “committed to protecting user data.”
“In order to protect user privacy, we don’t comment on specific cases, but we’re firmly committed to protecting user data and we have a long history of pushing to notify people using our services about legal requests that relate to their data,” the statement read.
In November, Biden’s DOJ executed an early-morning raid on Project Veritas personnel’s homes. The raid was in response to an investigation into the alleged theft of the diary, and raised concerns about the Biden administration adhering to the constitutional right to a free press.
According to O’Keefe, the diary was given to Project Veritas by an anonymous source, who claimed it was obtained legally. When Project Veritas couldn’t confirm its authenticity, O’Keefe decided not to publish any of its contents and gave the document to law enforcement.
Nearly one year after turning the diary over to police, Biden’s FBI raided O’Keefe’s home in Westchester County, New York, at 6 a.m. on November 6, 2021. Pursuant to a court order, the feds seized O’Keefe’s cell phones while he stood handcuffed in his underwear in a hallway surrounded by almost a dozen agents.
“The Department of Justice’s use of a search warrant to seize a reporter’s notes and work product violates decades of established Supreme Court precedent,” O’Keefe lawyer Paul Calli wrote to prosecutors.