In a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, Judicial Watch seeks records of interactions between the FBI and social media platforms regarding the Hunter Biden laptop allegation and foreign interference in elections.
The conservative watchdog organization filed the current lawsuit after the FBI allegedly refused to comply with an August FOIA request for all records between FBI officers and employees of Meta, Twitter, and other Big Tech companies.
The August request sought information regarding Biden’s laptop, media coverage of the laptop, and the threat of disinformation propagated by foreign entities about any U.S. election.
As per a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the FBI confirmed receipt of the initial FOIA request in September but has released no more information since then. The court petition stated the FBI had until September 26 to make a final conclusion on whether to comply, notify Judicial Watch of the agency’s decision, deliver the sought data, or establish that the requested records are exempt.
According to the lawsuit, the FBI violates FOIA by failing to release all responsive records or establish that the sought records are legitimately excluded from production.
Judicial Watch demands that the court compel the FBI to release all non-exempt data in response to its requests by a specific date and give the organization reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs incurred.
The initial FOIA request was made months before the publication of the “Twitter Files,” which revealed that the FBI collaborated with the Big Tech behemoth on content moderation, methodically identifying tweets it deemed harmful and wanted to be removed — notably those relevant to the 2020 election.
The records also revealed that the FBI regularly asked Twitter if it had detected any foreign activity leading up to the 2020 election; Twitter had stated that there was none. The FBI then delivered Twitter 10 unknown documents using its private one-way Teleport channel the day before the New York Post published its Hunter Biden article in October 2020.
The Post obtained and published emails from a laptop the president’s son had left at a Delaware repair shop. The emails covered Joe Biden’s international business operations and included meeting with a key official at the Ukrainian oil company Burisma.
Andy Stone, the head of policy communications at Facebook, bragged shortly after the report was published that the social media company was limiting its spread on Facebook’s platform. He had said that third-party fact-checkers were examining the report to prevent the spread of “misinformation.”
Stone worked for former Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the past. Twitter, however, prevented people from publishing or viewing the news immediately. The business also disabled the principal Twitter account of the Washington Post, claiming the absence of reliable information on the source of the items included in the story.
As revealed by independent journalist Michael Shellenberger last month, the FBI and other law enforcement officials “repeatedly prepared” Twitter to dismiss news of Hunter Biden’s laptop as a Russian “hack and leak.”
Shellenberger also stated in a February 2021 email that the FBI had paid Twitter over $3.4 million since October 2019 via the FBI. At the time, FBI officials informed Fox News that the money was a “reimbursement” for reasonable expenditures and expenses related to their response to a court process and for complying with legal demands, and as a routine procedure.
Under the pretense of fighting disinformation and foreign influence operations, opponents have contended that the money came from a collaboration designed to censor the tweets and accounts of mostly conservative voices.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, stated that the FBI essentially paid Twitter to “censor Americans before the 2020 election!” The FBI seems to have intervened in the 2020 election to aid Joe Biden by urging Big Tech to block Americans’ discussions on the Hunter laptop and other topics. In addition to the controversy, they are now concealing their misdeeds.
In a statement the FBI denied suspicions of cooperation but declined to comment for this article.
According to the agency, the contact between the FBI and Twitter is nothing more than an example of our regular, historical, and ongoing engagements with the private sector, which involve numerous firms across many industries and sectors. As revealed by the letter, the FBI offers vital information to the private sector so that they can safeguard their clients. According to the agency, conspiracy theorists and others are spreading false information to the American people to discredit the FBI.
In addition to the FBI’s discussions with Big Tech, Judicial Watch has filed complaints about government censorship. For instance, Judicial Watch is suing for all records of communications between the Election Integrity Partnership, which was established to identify false online election content, and the Cybersecurity Information Security Agency, which is part of the department.
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