Judge blocks New York Times from publishing Project Veritas materials

A New York trial judge has temporarily blocked the New York Times from publishing some materials concerning the rightwing activist group Project Veritas, a rare step that the newspaper said violated decades of first amendment constitutional protections.

The order by Justice Charles Wood of the Westchester county supreme court covers memos written by a Project Veritas lawyer and obtained by the New York Times.

Wood scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday to consider a longer prohibition against publication, and whether the Times should remove references to privileged attorney-client information in an 11 November article about Project Veritas’s journalism practices.

“This ruling is unconstitutional and sets a dangerous precedent,” Dean Baquet, the Times’s executive editor, said in an emailed statement.

“When a court silences journalism, it fails its citizens and undermines their right to know,” he added. “The Supreme Court made that clear in the Pentagon Papers case, a landmark ruling against prior restraint blocking the publication of newsworthy journalism. That principle clearly applies here. We are seeking an immediate review of this decision.“

Baquet’s statement referred to the US upreme court’s 1971 rejection of the Nixon administration’s attempt to stop the New York Times and the Washington Post from publishing the Pentagon Papers, which revealed details unwelcome to the administration about US military involvement in Vietnam.

Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, called prior restraint “among the most serious threats to press freedom”, and said an appeals court should vacate Wood’s order if the judge does not.

“This is the first prior restraint entered against the New York Times since the Pentagon Papers, and it is an outrageous affront to the First Amendment,” Brown said in a statement.

Project Veritas has also been involved in a Department of Justice investigation into its possible role in the reported theft of a diary from Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley.

Lawyers for Project Veritas had urged Wood to intervene after “references to, descriptions of, and verbatim quotations” from memos by its lawyer Benjamin Barr appeared in the Times.

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