On the heels of an explosive hidden-camera investigation of CNN’s anti-conservative bias, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe says he will file a lawsuit Monday against Twitter for defamation after the platform permanently suspended his account.
O’Keefe denies Twitter’s claim that he used “fake accounts” to spread his message, calling the charge “libel.”
“I am suing Twitter for defamation because they said, I, James O’Keefe, ‘operated fake accounts.’ This is false, this is defamatory, and they will pay,” the Project Veritas founder said in a statement to Fox News.
He said that while Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act may have protected Twitter from libel, “it will not protect them from me.”
A Twitter spokesman said O’Keefe was “permanently suspended for violating the Twitter Rules on platform manipulation and spam.” The policy, the spokesman said, states, “You can’t mislead others on Twitter by operating fake accounts” and “you can’t artificially amplify or disrupt conversations through the use of multiple accounts.”
However, Twitter has refused to provide any evidence to back its claim, The Federalist reported Friday.
Earlier this week, O’Keefe said he also intends to sue CNN after anchor Ana Cabrera claimed Project Veritas was banned by Twitter due to “misinformation.”
Twitter was the target of a Project Veritas exposé in January, publishing internal remarks by CEO Jack Dorsey and other top executives after the platform permanently suspended then-President Donald Trump.
‘The wherewithal to stand up’
O’Keefe announced the lawsuit against Twitter on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Thursday night.
He noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the New York Times motion to dismiss Project Veritas’ defamation lawsuit against the newspaper, advancing the case to the discovery phase.
Twitter, he said, defames millions of people every day.
“They did this after we released all these bombshell recordings into CNN, showing them calling themselves propaganda,” O’Keefe said. “It’s pretty extraordinary timing, but there are fundamental principles here we have to fight for, and I’m confident we are going to create an army that will follow in our footsteps.”
O’Keefe’s attorney, First Amendent lawyer Harmeet Dhillon, said that while defamation lawsuits against media outlets rarely succeed, in this case Twitter “made specific factual statements about our client that are false.”
She acknowledged that it must be proved that Twitter acted with malice.
“But Twitter controls that information, so Twitter has used this type of device to make false smear allegations against individuals in order to suspend them time and again,” she said.
“Very few individuals, very few targets, have the resources, and frankly the spine, that Project Veritas demonstrates,” said Dhillon.
She said that for every James O’Keefe, there are thousands of Americans who write to her about the issue, “and they don’t have the wherewithal to stand up.”
The attorney contended “it’s no accident that the devastating critique of CNN that came out day after day this week resulted in the permanent suspension and censorshiop of this voice.”
“It’s unacceptable. It’s a cartel-type behavior, and we as citizens must stand up against it in the courts,” she said.
‘People’s defamation defense’
O’Keefe said his Twitter case has much broader implications, calling it a “people’s defamation defense, as “so many people are lied about by the media.”
“A guy at CNN calling their outlet propaganda, and yet Twitter suspends me,” he said.
O’Keefe said he will depose Twitter officials about what they wrote and then will publish the depositions on YouTube.
“We’re the only ones who can do it,” he said. “I will be the tip of that spear, and we’re going to create a movement of people.”
He said he doesn’t want to sue, but he has no other option.
“It’s the only way to hold them accountable.”
Judge: ‘Substantial basis in law to proceed’
A New York judge last month denied the Times motion to dismiss the suit over the paper’s portrayal of Project Veritas’ reporting last fall on alleged voter fraud in the Minnesota district represented by Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.
In a news article, the Times described Project Veritas’ reporting as “deceptive,” “false” and “with no verifiable evidence.”
Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood ruled that the “facts submitted by Veritas could indicate more than standard, garden variety media bias and support a plausible inference of actual malice.”
“There is a substantial basis in law to proceed to permit the plaintiff to conduct discovery and to then attempt to meet its higher standard of proving liability through clear and convincing evidence of actual malice,” he said.
See O’Keefe’s interview with Sean Hannity:
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