California prosecutors charged two undercover journalists with 15 felony counts on Tuesday, including charges of invasion of privacy.
David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were charged for allegedly filming 14 healthcare workers without their consent, in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties from October 2013 to July 2015, State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, said in a statement.
Daleiden and Merritt had posed as undercover representatives from a non-existent company seeking to purchase fetal tissue.
“The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society,” Becerra said. “We will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations.”
Becerra said the two fabricated a fictitious bio-research company to meet with women’s health care providers to secretly record them.
Daleiden denied the charges, telling Reuters that he had done nothing wrong because the recordings were not confidential and were recorded in public.
“The conversations that we secretly recorded were in open areas and in public areas where people could overhear,” he said. “In fact, they did overhear.”
Daleiden released a statement through the Center for Medical Progress, alleging that the charges were the result of Planned Parenthood’s “collusion with corrupt officials.”
“The bogus charges from Planned Parenthood’s political cronies are fake news,” the statement read. It also teases “yet-unreleased” videos the group plans to disclose.
Daleiden runs the California-based nonprofit Center for Medical Progress, which released the videos in 2015.
In January earlier this year, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas indicted Daleiden and Merritt for using fake driver’s licenses to infiltratea Houston-area Planned Parenthood office. However, those charges were later dropped with the state ruling that a grand jury had overstepped its authority after they were convened to investigate the Planned Parenthood facility but instead indicted the pair.
The group has said that they will fight the unconstitutional gag order on the remaining Planned Parenthood videos which they call “damning and incriminating.”
— CMP (@CtrMedProgress) March 29, 2017