FBI agents executed a search warrant on the home of Tampa City Council member Lynn Hurtak and her husband, former Deadspin editor Timothy Burke back in May, seizing computers, video equipment, and other devices in the process. On Friday, his lawyers filed a motion to the U.S. Department of Justice demanding that Burke’s devices be returned, also issuing a statement for the first time on the matter.
It was later revealed that the search warrant executed by the FBI was linked to allegations of alleged computer intrusions and intercepted communications at the Fox News Network by Burke.
In Burke’s statement on Friday, he vehemently denied that any crime was committed by him toward Fox News.
“Finding and reporting on newsworthy content is not a crime, no matter who is embarrassed by the reporting,” Burke said in a statement sent to the Tampa Bay Times.
An excerpt from Burke’s attorneys’ letter to the prosecutor on his legal fund website further details Burke’s side of the story.
“Our further investigation of both the facts and the law as we know them indicate that this is not a close case. Mr. Burke accessed publicly accessible live streams by simply finding and putting in the appropriate URL for the website. There was no “hacking,” no “forced entry” and no special tools necessary. You have indicated that you are continuing to investigate by speaking to “victims” other than Fox News. We emphatically insist that there are no “victims” because there was no crime. Even if the entities streaming the video were unaware that the videos were publicly accessible, and indeed even if they had no intention of making the videos publicly accessible (“facts” which we emphatically dispute), there was no intentional access to ANY computer “without authorization,” and no intentional access to ANY computer in “excess of authorization.” The only cases we are aware of where a prosecutor has taken the position that access by a journalist to publicly accessible information for the purpose of publishing this information was charged as a crime did not end well for the government.”
Burke added in his statement to the Tampa Bay Times that he feels that powerful people and corporations are trying to “silence him.”
“Those entities have long attempted to silence me or the companies for which I’ve worked, but I’m astonished to now find my own government levying the biggest challenge to my First Amendment rights that I’ve ever faced,” Burke added.
While Burke added that he hopes the legal process plays out quickly, it’s too early to tell just how his case may develop in the weeks and months to come.