Federal prosecutors claim news is criminal contraband

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The FBI raided journalist Tim Burke's home newsroom, pictured above, last year. Now prosecutors are seeking to censor him by labeling the files they seized criminal contraband.

Photo courtesy of Tim Burke

Federal prosecutors in Florida have concocted a novel workaround to restrain journalists from publishing news: declaring the news itself criminal “contraband.”

That’s the latest constitutionally dubious argument the Department of Justice is making in the prosecution of Tim Burke, the journalist who found unaired footage from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News interview with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, where Ye went on a bizarre and antisemitic rant.

Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) Advocacy Director Seth Stern wrote for Slate about the dangers of the government’s theory.

"What if the Nixon administration had charged the Times with, say, Espionage Act violations, seized the Pentagon Papers, and then sought a prior restraint in the guise of a discovery order to prohibit the Times from publishing them?

There’s already an alarming increase in prior restraints issued by courts across the United States. The DOJ, in its inexplicable zeal to punish Burke for embarrassing Fox News, risks setting a precedent that will compound the problem."

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