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Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe.YouTube screenshot/Project Veritas.

NEW YORK (LifeSiteNews) – In a win for Project Veritas on Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Analisa Torres ordered the appointment of a “special master” to review the devices seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in a search ostensibly for a diary that may have been owned by presidential daughter Ashley Biden.

Last month, the FBI raided the homes of current and former journalists with the conservative investigative group. Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe says they were given the diary late in last year’s presidential campaign, but opted not to pursue the story since its authenticity could not be verified. Veritas never reported on the book’s contents, and O’Keefe maintains that Biden representatives declined their offer to return the diary (which would have confirmed it belonged to Ashley Biden), so the group gave it to law enforcement.

On November 11, the New York Times published an article accusing Veritas of occupying a “gray area between investigative journalism and political spying,” and purports to back up that thesis by citing “internal documents” including “a series of memos written by the group’s lawyer” regarding how to ensure its undercover operations, which entail journalists misrepresenting themselves and surreptitiously recording subjects, remain on the right side of the law.

The Times’ publication of privileged attorney-client communications sparked outrage among conservative legal analysts, as well as disturbing questions as to how the Times obtained those communications in the first place, with many suspecting the FBI leaked them after acquiring them during the raid.

Fox News reports that this week, Torres agreed with Veritas’s request for a review of its cell phones seized by the FBI, writing that the matter posed “potential First Amendment concerns.”

“The Court recognizes, as other courts in this district have concluded, that ‘the Southern District prosecutors have integrity and decency,’ and the filter team alone could conduct the review ‘with utmost integrity,’” Torres explained in her ruling. “However, the Court determines that the appointment of a special master is warranted here because ‘it is important that the procedure adopted… not only be fair but also appear to be fair.’”

This leak was not the first indicator that the Times — which Project Veritas is suing for defamation — possessed sensitive information pertaining to the conservative group. 

O’Keefe’s response to the FBI raids mentioned the fact that the Times “contacted the Project Veritas reporter for comment” within an hour of that reporter’s home being searched. “We do not know how The New York Times was aware of the execution of a search warrant at our reporter’s home, or the subject matter of the search warrant, as a Grand Jury investigation is secret.”

“The appointment of a Special Master over the objections of the Department of Justice is further evidence of Government overreach in their heavy-handed violation of the First Amendment and journalistic privilege during the investigation of the purported theft of a diary belonging to the daughter of the President,” a Project Veritas spokesperson said of this week’s ruling. “Project Veritas appreciates the ruling but continues to insist that the Government show the public why they conducted these raids and return legally privileged material immediately.”

Project Veritas, which specializes in undercover videos targeting various left-wing political and media institutions, has been a recurring target over the years of Democrats and their allies due to the revelations of its investigations, from the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and radicalism in public education to election fraud in government agencies and partisan bias in mainstream media giants.

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