The defamation lawsuit filed in March by Aaron Rich, the brother of murdered former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, appears to have ramped up significantly with the subpoena of documents, communications and messages sent and received by several Twitter accounts over for the timespan of Jan. 1, 2015 to the present.
In March, Aaron Rich filed a defamation lawsuit in response to various conspiracies that surfaced after the unsolved murder of his brother Seth Rich. Rich particularly sued Texas businessman Ed Butowsky, America First Media Group founder Matt Couch, Couch’s company America First Media Group and the right-leaning newspaper The Washington Times.
The details of the June subpoena shows that Aaron Rich’s legal team at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP is trying to get its hands on a lot of communications sent over various accounts. Attorney Michael Gottlieb listed “primary accounts” for the defendants named above, plus Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, Roger Stone, Kim Dotcom, the website Gateway Pundit and its current employee Cassandra Fairbanks.
The subpoena asked for communications (“tweets, re-tweets, likes or replies on Twitter”), direct messages, documents (including but not limited to video/audio recordings, email attachments, notes, calendars, diaries, etc.) and related metadata about the following “Topics” sent by or to the “primary accounts” mentioned above:
The subpoena also asked for communications, directs messages and documents about topics mentioned sent by or to “secondary accounts” from Jan. 1, 2015 to present. A secondary account was one defined as “any Account that communicated with the Primary Account.”
Gateway Pundit published a copy of the subpoena as well as a message from “Twitter Legal” about it:
Twitter has not disclosed any information regarding your account at this time. However, we wanted to bring this matter to your attention. Please be advised that Twitter may be obligated to produce basic subscriber information related to your account in the future. Accordingly, please advise within 14 days from the date of this notice, from the email address associated with your Twitter account, @gatewaypundit, if you intend to appear in this matter or file a motion to quash. Please also provide us with copies of any papers you file with the Court. If you plan to have your attorney contact us, please first respond to this email from the email address associated with your Twitter account, @gatewaypundit, letting us know that your attorney will be contacting us and providing us with your attorney’s name and contact information.
While we cannot give you any legal advice, we suggest that you seek your own counsel in this matter. If you need assistance seeking counsel, you may consider contacting the Electronic Frontier Foundation (https://www.eff.org/pages/legal-assistance[eff.org],[email protected], +1 415-436-****) or the ACLU (http://www.aclu.org/affiliates[aclu.org], +1 212-549-****).
For more general information on legal requests, please refer to the following Help Center article: https://t.co/*****.
Jim Hoft asked “How is this legal?” at the very top of his story about this.
“Twitter sent out notices to several investigative reporters and media outlets on Friday including: Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Kim DotCom, Cassandra Fairbanks, Roger Stone, Matt Couch and The Gateway Pundit,” he wrote. “The liberal and Democrat-connected attorneys for Aaron Rich are demanding Twitter turn over all direct messages from these accounts to Aarron Rich’s attorneys.”
So far the reaction to the subpoena on Conservative Twitter appears to be that this an “attack win the free press.”
Law&Crime columnist attorney Robert Barnes, who has represented Cassandra Fairbanks in a separate matter, said the “Obama lawyer” subpoena of direct messages should be denied.
Fairbanks told Law&Crime the subpoena was a “gross and far reaching violation of privacy.” Law&Crime has also reached out to Michael Gottlieb for additional comment.
Rich’s initial complaint accused defendants of acting “with reckless disregard for the truth,” particularly in their allegations that Aaron Rich was involved in the “WikiLeaks leak and the cover-up of his own brother’s murder.”
He alleged that statements made by the parties named accused him of criminal conduct and are therefore “defamatory per se.” Rich has sought damages for the ruining of his reputation and harm done to his “emotional wellbeing.”
He said that the defendants claims of having “proof” that he helped his brother steal data from the DNC, sold the stolen data to WikiLeaks and then covered up his brother’s murder were motivated by “personal notoriety, financial gain, and naked partisan aims,” and that they willfully “trampled” on his reputation and “emotional wellbeing” in the process.
As Law&Crime reported at the time of the filing, Butowsky gave CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy his reaction to the lawsuit, asking “[H]ow many more family members do the Riches have that want to sue me?”
Previously, Butowsky was described by NPR as “The Man Behind The Scenes In Fox News’ Discredited Seth Rich Story.”
Matt Couch reacted on Twitter to the lawsuit against himself and his company by saying “sounds like some folks in DC have some more explaining to do…#SethRich #HisNameWasSethRich.”
That last hashtag, for example, is one of the “Topics” named in the subpoena.
[Image via LinkedIn screengrab]
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