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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Hunter Biden sues former Trump White House aide over release of private material

Hunter Biden’s legal team filed a lawsuit Wednesday against former Trump White House aide, Garrett Ziegler, over the publication of private photos, emails and other materials that came from a hard drive allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden.

The lawsuit is the latest in a strategy Biden’s lawyers telegraphed earlier this year, which involved an aggressive push to pursue court action against those they viewed as instigating unwarranted and invasive attacks on Biden, the son of President Joe Biden.

Ziegler has been a particularly notable figure in the effort to bring attention to Hunter Biden’s past — largely mined from the now-infamous laptop. Ziegler, a former aide to Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, has operated a website dedicated in part to exposing elements of Hunter Biden’s past. The website includes links to a range of photos, text messages, emails and other documents purported to be from the president’s son.

The 13-page lawsuit alleges that Ziegler and others violated federal and California privacy laws by “accessing, tampering with, manipulating, altering, copying and damaging computer data” gathered from Hunter Biden’s purported laptop and iPhone cloud storage without consent.

The lawsuit details how Ziegler and unnamed defendants allegedly obtained sensitive materials by hacking into encrypted data on Hunter Biden’s devices and uploading them to Ziegler’s website, where it remains public. In the lawsuit, Hunter Biden’s lawyers assert that the defendants had refused requests to “cease their unlawful activity” and return private data belonging to the president’s son.

“I nor the nonprofit, Marco Polo, have been served with a lawsuit — but the one I read this morning out of the Central District of California should embarrass Winston & Strawn LLP. It’s not worth the paper it’s written on” Ziegler told CBS News in a statement. “Apart from the numerous state and federal laws and regulations which protect authors like me and the publishing that Marco Polo does, it’s not lost on us that Joe’s son filed this SLAPP one day after a so-called Impeachment Inquiry into his father was announced. The president’s son is a disgrace to our great nation.”

The reference to a SLAPP suit (a strategic lawsuit against public participation) alludes to a California law providing penalties for filing a lawsuit intended to chill the exercise of the rights to petition and free speech.

Earlier this year, Hunter Biden sued John Paul Mac Isaac, a Delaware-based computer repairman for invasion of privacy for allegedly accessing and distributing Biden’s private computer data in 2019. Attorneys for Biden also requested that the Justice Department investigate Isaac, Ziegler and others for allegedly violating Delaware laws by distributing data from Biden’s personal device.

Mac Isaac has said he obtained the information from Biden’s laptop legally and has said that Biden himself dropped it off in April 2019 and never returned to claim it. Mac Isaac has said he waited 90 days and then considered it abandoned.

In this recent suit, Hunter Biden is seeking a jury trial, damages, an injunction that would prevent access or tampering with Biden’s data and the return of any materials obtained unlawfully.

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