Freelance Journalist Tim Burke Charged with 14 Federal Crimes, Including Conspiracy

Freelance Journalist Tim Burke Charged with 14 Federal Crimes, Including Conspiracy

Freelance journalist and media consultant Tim Burke has been charged with 14 federal crimes, including conspiracy, according to an indictment obtained by Rolling Stone. Burke was arrested this morning in Tampa, Florida, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times. The charges stem from his alleged involvement in a conspiracy that encompassed unauthorized access to protected computers, theft of electronic items and information, interception and disclosure of wire, oral, and electronic video communications.

Last May, Burke’s residence in Tampa was raided by the FBI as part of an investigation into the leak of unaired clips from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight to Vice and Media Matters, liberal watchdog organizations. Although the indictment does not explicitly name Fox News, it refers to “Network #1,” a multinational media company headquartered in New York City that produced and distributed content through multiple brands.

The leaked clips included footage of Kanye West repeating antisemitic tropes and embarrassing moments featuring Carlson making inappropriate comments to his make-up artist and discussing a deposition in the Dominion defamation case. The leaks caused significant embarrassment for Fox News, leading to Carlson’s subsequent departure from the network. Fox News lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to Media Matters, demanding they stop publishing the clips.

During the raid on Burke’s home, which lasted nearly 10 hours and began at dawn, several devices, including his phone, computer, and hard drives, were seized by the FBI. At the time, the specific crimes Burke was being accused of were not made public, and his lawyers were unaware of the charges.

Burke, a former Deadspin reporter known for uncovering the Manti T’eo catfishing scandal and stitching together footage of Sinclair Broadcasting anchors reading the same script, has maintained that the Fox News clips were obtained legally and that his activities are protected by the First Amendment. His lawyer, Mark Rasch, a former federal prosecutor, argued that the low-definition, unencrypted feeds from Fox News were publicly accessible through specific URLs, and Burke did not attempt to conceal his actions.

In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, Burke emphasized that finding and reporting on newsworthy content is not a crime, regardless of who may be embarrassed by the reporting. A legal fund has been established to support Burke in his defense against the charges.

Author: CrimeDoor

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