In a new lawsuit filed in US District Court in California on Tuesday morning, President Joe Biden’s son sued Mr Giuliani and his former attorney Robert Costello for alleged violations of computer fraud and data access over the laptop which infamously became fodder for right-wing attacks against both Hunter and his father.
The suit alleges that the data claimed to have been found on the laptop was tampered with both before and after it landed in the hands of Mr Giuliani and Mr Costello – leaving it unrecognisable to its apparent owner Hunter.
The two men then allegedly engaged in what has been described as a “total annihilation” of Hunter’s “digital privacy” and “data”.
“For the past many months and even years, Defendants have dedicated an extraordinary amount of time and energy toward looking for, hacking into, tampering with, manipulating, copying, disseminating, and generally obsessing over data that they were given that was taken or stolen from Plaintiff’s devices or storage platforms, including what Defendants claim to have obtained from Plaintiff’s alleged “laptop” computer,” the suit alleges.
As well as Mr Giuliani and Mr Costello, three of the former New York City mayor’s companies Giuliani Partners, Giuliani Group and Giuliani Security & Safety are also named as defendants in the case.
In October 2020 – one month before the presidential election – reports began surfacing about the contents of a laptop that Hunter is said to have dropped off at a Delaware computer repair store, and failed to ever collect.
The hard drive infamously landed in the hands of Mr Giuliani – a close ally of and personal attorney to Mr Trump who soon after became a key figure in the former president’s false election fraud claims following his loss to Mr Biden.
Several photos, emails and files found on the laptop – some of them showing Hunter naked and in the grips of substance abuse – were then leaked to the media.
In the lawsuit, Hunter claims that his data “was manipulated, altered and damaged before it was copied and sent to” Mr Giuliani and Mr Costello.
He then accuses Mr Giuliani and Mr Costello of illegally hacking into his personal data and then tampering with and altering some of it. The “illegal hacking and tampering” with the data “has involved further alterations and damage to the data to a degree that is presently unknown” to Hunter, the suit claims.
The president’s son is asking for a jury trial in the case.
Ted Goodman, Mr Giuliani’s advisor, responded to the lawsuit in a statement to The Independent: “Hunter Biden has previously refused to admit ownership of the laptop. I’m not surprised he’s now falsely claiming his laptop hard drive was manipulated by Mayor Giuliani, considering the sordid material and potential evidence of crimes on that thing.”
The new lawsuit comes as Hunter has gone on the defence against attacks from the right and filed a series of lawsuits in recent months.
Back in March, Hunter sued the owner of the computer repair shop. Then, earlier this month, he brought a lawsuit against former Trump administration White House aide Garrett Ziegler over the laptop.
He also sued the IRS for unlawfully releasing his private tax information after two IRS whistleblowers came forward with information.
Earlier this month, Hunter was hit with three felony gun charges following a long-running federal investigation stemming from a gun purchase in 2018.
According to prosecutors, Hunter lied on the form when he was asked whether he is an “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.”
The charges came after he reached a plea deal with the Justice Department back in June before the terms of the agreement fell apart before a judge.
Under the terms of the deal, Hunter had agreed to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanours for failing to pay his taxes on time in 2017 and 2018.
In exchange, prosecutors would not charge with him a gun possession violation.
The judge refused to accept the scope of the plea deal and the agreement – which was slammed as a “sweetheart deal” by Biden critics – fell apart, paving the way for a grand jury’s three-count indictment.
Beyond the federal gun case, Hunter is also under investigation for his taxes and business dealings.