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JUDICIAL WATCH VICTORY: APPEALS COURT ALLOWS CIVIL RIGHTS CASE BY ENERGY DEPARTMENT WHISTLEBLOWER TO PROCEED AGAINST FORMER FBI DIRECTOR LOUIS FREEH

Judicial Watch
Washington, DC
Dec. 31, 2001

NOTRA TRULOCK ALLEGES ILLEGAL FBI SEARCH AND SEIZURE IN RETALIATION FOR ARTICLE CRITICAL OF FBI

(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch, the public interest law firm that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed to proceed a civil rights complaint by Energy Department whistleblower Notra Trulock against former FBI Director Louis Freeh and others. The complaint alleges that Trulock’s First Amendment rights were violated by Freeh and other FBI officials when, after Trulock wrote an article critical of the FBI, they ordered his personal computer files by seized by FBI agents. The FBI neither had a warrant nor the consent of Trulock or his landlord to conduct the illegal search and seizure. Linda Conrad, who was also Trulock’s landlord, also sued over the illegal search and seizure. Both Trulock and Conrad are represented by Judicial Watch.

The Fourth Circuit’s opinion was released late on December 28 and is available on the Judicial Watch Internet site at www.JudicialWatch.org. The court ruled in part that:

First, the timing of the search raises an inference of retaliatory motive [by Louis Freeh and others]...The article was published in early July 2000 and the search occurred on July 14, 2000. The article chastised the White House, the CIA, the DOE, and the FBI, the very agency that executed the search. According to the Plaintiffs, a criminal referral is necessary for the FBI to commence an official investigation. The complaint alleges, however, that the FBI initiated the investigation without receiving a criminal referral from the DOE. [DOE Intelligence Official] Sanchez told Conrad, on behalf of the FBI, that there was a search warrant when there was none. Finally, two weeks after the incident, Sanchez told Conrad that if she initiated a lawsuit, Sanchez, to protect the "Bureau," would deny telling Conrad that the FBI claimed to have a search warrant. All of these factors, when viewed together and accepted as true, raise a reasonable inference that the interrogation and search were retaliatory.

(The Appeals Court declined to allow to proceed Trulock’s and Conrad’s claim that the search violated their Fourth Amendment rights, though Judicial Watch believes that, given the language of the opinion, the Fourth Amendment claim can be resurrected easily.) The case will proceed on the “rocket docket” in the Eastern District of Virginia.

“Louis Freeh will finally have to answer in court for what he did to our clients. He and other top FBI officials authorized that our clients’ home be raided because Notra Trulock was critical of their FBI. If anyone has a question about what Louis Freeh was doing while terrorism festered on our soil on his watch, they can look to this lawsuit for some of the answers,” stated Judicial Watch Chairman and General Counsel Larry Klayman.

Link to the original complaint: Trulock v. Louis Freeh, et. al.


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