Pando

FBI refuses to hand Gawker the keys to its secret celebrity sex tape library

Funnily enough.

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on June 23, 2015

From The Legal Affairs Desk

As press freedom cases go, there are plenty less icky than Gawker's fight with Hulk Hogan after the former published a videotape of the latter having sex with someone else's wife.

If Gawker loses the case, it faces a $100m damage claim by the professional wrestler. But, as Capital New York reported, even if Gawker ultimately wins, just the costs of fighting Hogan in court could be enough to drive it to bankrupcy. 

Little wonder, then, that Nick Denton's lawyers are doing everything they can to gather evidence that Hogan is culpable in the tape's release.

Back in May, Gawker even filed a lawsuit against the FBI, following an unsuccessful attempt to FOIA documents relating to an investigation into the release of the tape. 

Through this lawsuit, Gawker seeks to compel the Agencies to provide records it requested through FOIA relating to an FBI investigation, conducted in 2012, into the source and distribution of video footage depicting Terry Gene Bollea, professionally known as Hulk Hogan (“Hogan”), engaged in a sexual affair with Heather Clem, the wife of his best friend, the radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.

 

Specifically Gawker demanded the FBI hand over...  

a) communications between Hogan and his counsel with the FBI;   b) documents related to video recordings depicting Hogan engaged in sexual   c) activity with Ms. Clem, including the recordings themselves; statements by Hogan and/or his counsel; and

d) records pertaining to the source and distribution of the video recordings, or attempts to disseminate or sell those video recordings.

 

Yes, you read that correctly. Gawker asked the FBI to hand over any tapes it had of Hulk Hogan having sex. 

Finally, this past Friday, the FBI sent its response to the lawsuit. And it'll surprise you not a jot to learn that the federal government, while acknowledging the existence of a criminal investigation into the release of the tape, still refuses to hand over to a gossip site video footage of a professional wrestler having consensual sex with an adult woman. (Imagine the precedent that would set! Next thing the feds would have to hand over every wrestler sex tape in their famously huge libarary.) 

Still, if the bureau's response isn't particularly remarkable, the various ways in which the FBI's lawyers tell Gawker to go fuck itself at least makes amusing reading. My favourite part is where they grudgingly admit that, yes, the FBI does have a headquarters.  

Note also that the FBI is asking the court to order Gawker to pay its costs in responding to the lawsuit. If the court agrees, the bureau had better cash the check fast.

Here's the full response, followed by Gawker's initial lawsuit...