California Officials Seize Computers, Footage From Anti-Abortion Activist

California Officials Seize Computers, Footage From Anti-Abortion Activist

(Reuters) California Department of Justice agents have raided the home of David Daleiden, the anti-abortion activist who targeted women’s healthcare group Planned Parenthood with a series of undercover videos, his attorney said on Wednesday.

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Eleven agents seized four computers and hundreds of hours of video footage from Daleiden’s apartment in Huntington Beach on Tuesday, said Charles LiMandri, a civil attorney for Daleiden in three cases in California.

Daleiden and his group, the Center for Medical Progress, began releasing videos in mid-2015 purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to negotiate prices for aborted fetal tissue. Under federal law, donated human fetal tissue may be used for research, but profiting from its sale is prohibited.

Planned Parenthood denied the accusation and called the probe politically motivated.

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The videos caused a political uproar, leading several Republican-controlled states as well as Republicans in the U.S. Congress to try to halt funding for the women’s health organization. They also renewed the debate over abortion rights, which has since become one of the central issues of the presidential campaign.

Asked about the raid, Brenda Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for California Attorney General Kamala Harris, said: “I cannot comment on any ongoing investigation.”

Harris said last year she would “review” the undercover videos. On Wednesday, a source with knowledge of the matter said her office was conducting an investigation.

Daleiden is under criminal investigation in Texas, where he was indicted in February for tampering with a government record and violating a prohibition on the purchase and sale of human body parts.

LiMandri said the California seizure came “out of nowhere” as Daleiden continued to cooperate with authorities in civil investigations. He added that Daleiden was working to secure a criminal attorney.

“We will pursue all remedies to vindicate our First Amendment rights,” Daleiden said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Planned Parenthood said the raid showed Daleiden was “paying the price” for creating his undercover videos and maintained it had done nothing wrong. “David Daleiden’s lies are catching up with him,” communications director Erica Sackin said in a statement.

(Reporting by Megan Cassella in Washington; Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif.; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Peter Cooney)


 

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