Hunter Biden filed a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump aide Garrett Ziegler on Wednesday, alleging that Ziegler had violated federal computer laws by hacking into the now-infamous laptop that was left in a Delaware repair shop in 2019.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, accuses Ziegler and his company — Marco Polo USA — and 10 unidentified associates of spreading “tens of thousands of emails, thousands of photos, and dozens of videos and recordings” that were considered “pornographic” on the laptop.
Ziegler’s company website claims to be a nonprofit research group “exposing corruption & blackmail.” The website has several sections pertaining to Biden’s laptop, including his emails, text messages, phone calls and financial data that culminates into a massive “online searchable database.”
In the 14-page civil complaint, Biden’s attorneys allege that Ziegler is a “zealot” who has unleashed a “sustained, unhinged and obsessed campaign” against the entire Biden family for over two years and “spent countless hours accessing, tampering with, manipulating, altering, copying and damaging computer data” with his associates.
“While Defendant Ziegler is entitled to his extremist and counterfactual opinions, he has no right to engage in illegal activities to advance his right-wing agenda,” attorneys Abbe Lowell, Bryan Sullivan, Zachary Hansen and Paul Salvaty wrote.
“Defendants not only admit to accessing, tampering with, manipulating and copying Plaintiff’s data from their claimed Plaintiff’s ‘laptop’ computer without Plaintiff’s authorization or consent, they regularly brag about their illegal activities in interviews with members of the media, on social media, and on right-wing podcasts,” they wrote.
Attorneys argue data on the laptop — which included bank and credit card records — was backed up on Biden’s iCloud.
Thus, the lawsuit alleges Ziegler and his associates hacked into the storage “by circumventing technical or code-based barriers that were specifically designed and intended to prevent such access” and significantly “tampered with, manipulated, damaged and copied” the data without Biden’s permission.
Ziegler “required more time and effort than uploading photos from Plaintiff’s data because Defendants needed ‘to use AI tools’ on the data as part of their purported efforts to ‘censor’ portions of videos that Defendants consider to be ‘pornographic,'” the lawsuit states.
Ziegler said in a statement to Politico that either he nor his company “have been served with any lawsuit.”
“But the one I read this morning out of the Central District of California should embarrass Winston & Strawn LLP,” he wrote.
“Apart from the numerous state and federal laws and regulations which protect authors like me and the publishing that Marco Polo does, it’s not lost on us that Joe’s son filed this SLAPP one day after an Impeachment inquiry into his father was announced.”
According to the court filings, Biden’s team is requesting a jury trial based on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and California’s Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act.
The federal law prohibits various forms of computer-related activities such as hacking, unauthorized access, and the distribution of malicious software, while the state law provides legal protections against unauthorized access, use, or manipulation of computer data within California. Both carry lengthy sentences if convicted.
Prior to this suit, Biden had already taken steps to punch back in the courtroom over the contested laptop, which some of his attorneys argue may not belong to him.
In March, he initiated a countersuit, asserting that the Wilmington repair shop owner, John Paul Mac Isaac, had unlawfully disseminated Biden’s personal information, and leveled six invasion of privacy charges against him. Mac Isaac first filed a lawsuit against the president’s son — as well as CNN, Politico, and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.– in October 2022 for defamation.
According to Mac Isaac, Biden did not return for the laptop within three months after dropping it off, and he could not be reached. He then alerted the FBI after seeing emails on the laptop illustrating information about then-Vice President Joe Biden‘s purported foreign business dealings and videos of Biden taking drugs and performing sex acts with prostitutes.
Before federal agents picked up the laptop, Mac Isaac made a copy of its hard drive and gave it to Trump’s campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani the following year.
Biden was expected to plead guilty in July to two misdemeanor tax counts of willful failure to pay federal income tax as part of a plea deal to avoid jail time on a felony gun charge. Instead, he pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and one felony gun charge last month.