The New Jersey attorney general's office said on Tuesday that it did not send the takedown notice a gun-rights website recently received that has become the subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit.
State attorney general Gurbir Grewal wrote a letter to Judge Anne E. Thompson of the U.S. District Court for New Jersey that said the takedown notice sent to CodeIsFreeSpeech.com's webhost directing them to wipe the site from the internet was not sent by his office or anyone in the state government. That notice is the center of a federal lawsuit brought against New Jersey by the gun-rights groups behind the gun-blueprint-sharing website. Grewal said the notice was sent by somebody trying to impersonate his office.
"The Attorney General's Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) has concluded that a key document supporting Plaintiff's TRO application—a ‘takedown notice' purportedly sent by DCJ to CloudFlare, Inc., which hosts one of the plaintiff's websites, CodeIsFreeSpeech.com—was not in fact issued by DCJ, and appears to have been issued by some entity impersonating the Attorney General's Office," Grewal said in the letter. "We are including a certification that details our office's investigation so far. In addition, we have referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey."
"As noted, we have no reason to believe the Attorney General's Office filed this takedown notice with Cloudflare, and our investigation thus far demonstrates the office did not do so," Grewal said. "We have conferred with all relevant parties within the Attorney General's Office—including DCJ and the New Jersey State Police—and there is no evidence that anyone within the Office authorized its filing."
Alongside Grewal's letter, New Jersey submitted a sworn affidavit from Detective Kevin Madore of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice detailing his investigation into the takedown notice. Madore said he determined, with the help of the hosting service CloudFlare, that the takedown notice was sent from abroad.
"I learned that the I.P. address resides in the Slovak Republic," Madore wrote in his affidavit. "Using other open source tools, I confirmed that the geolocation was the Slovak Republic. Also, I confirmed that this I.P. address is reserved for that provider based in the Slovak Republic."
The gun-rights groups who filed suit against the state said they were conducting their own investigation into Grewal's claims but planned to continue pursuing their legal case.
"Our legal team is conducting an investigation," Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition, told the Washington Free Beacon. "The lawsuit will continue to proceed expeditiously and we will be briefing our motion for preliminary injunction in advance of a March 20 preliminary injunction hearing that was set by the Court."
Lawyers for the gun-rights groups sent a letter to Grewal's office on Thursday demanding he answer questions about whether he plans to prosecute the groups for publishing gun blueprints.
"The letter you filed with the Court on Tuesday disclaimed one of the threats that had apparently been made by Attorney General Grewal against the Plaintiffs," Chad Flores, counsel for the plaintiffs, said in the letter. "But the letter did not disclaim any of the other threats that have been made against the Plaintiffs by the Attorney General. So, we pose the case's most immediate question in no uncertain terms: If Defense Distributed, the Second Amendment Foundation, or CodeIsFreeSpeech.com publish the computer files at issue, will Attorney General Gurbir Grewal bring civil or criminal enforcement actions against them for it?"
They then demanded he reverse his position on the legality of publishing the documents or they would continue their lawsuit.
"To avoid a preliminary injunction here, the Attorney General would need to unequivocally disclaim all of his current threats," Flores wrote. "In particular, he would need to take the position that New Jersey Statute 2C:39-9(l)(2) will not be enforced against the Plaintiffs as punishment for publishing the files at issue via the internet or via the mail. Will he do so? Likewise for the civil punishments he threatens (e.g., civil lawsuits and cease-and-desist orders).
"Will he now unequivocally disclaim these threats?"