FBI Copy of Hulk Hogan’s Sex Tape Faces Review

     (CN) – If the FBI does not want to give the media website Gawker a copy of Hulk Hogan’s full 30-minute sex tape, it needs to explain why, a federal judge ruled.
     Gawker demanded the tape and other documents a month ago in a Freedom of Information Act case , contending that FBI records are critical to its defense of a $100 million lawsuit by the former wrestling star Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea.
     The case originates with Gawker’s publication back in October 2012 of snippets from a sex tape featuring the Hulk and Heather Clem, the former wife of Florida DJ Bubba the Love Sponge.
     Gawker says the FBI conducted a short-lived investigation into the source and distribution of that tape, but has refused to surrender any responsive documents by claiming that their release would interfere with the investigation.
     U.S. Attorney Erik Stegeby reiterated that position Wednesday at a hearing in Tampa, Fla.
     “There may be statements that Mr. Hogan makes on that tape that could potentially be – would potentially interfere with the ongoing law enforcement investigation,” Stegeby said, according to a transcript of the hearing.
     U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew asked if such statements occur mid-coitus, but Stegeby emphasized that he has not seen the tape.
     “I don’t know if they have sex for 30 minutes or for two minutes or talk for 28 minutes,” Stegeby replied. “I just don’t know.”
     Application of the law-enforcement exemption baffled the judge.
     “OK, well, I can somehow envision where this, at one point, might have been a privacy exemption which no longer exists,” she said. “For the life of me I can’t understand how there can be any law enforcement exemption to those tapes.”
     Stegeby replied that the government used the law-enforcement exemption because it has not gone through each of the responsive documents “line by line.”
     He added that rejection of the law-enforcement exemption as to the tape would force its production because the privacy exemption has already been waived.
     The FBI has identified 1,168 documents that are responsive to Gawker’s request.
     Bucklew on Thursday ordered that the FBI must disclose all nonexempt documents and emails because Hogan and Clem had signed privacy waivers.
     As for the documents that the FBI contends are exempt, the government must explain how that exemption applies specifically to each document it withholds by June 30.
     The court will conduct a hearing on the documents which the FBI claims are exempt on July 2.
     The next round of the Hogan-Gawker lawsuit is set for a court in St. Petersburg, Fla., on July 6.
     Gawker emphasized that release of the “tapes and documents should help answer a number of questions relevant to Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit – whether there are still more sex tapes out there, who was taping and why and who all knew about it.”
     “We always want to get to the bottom of every story, and now we’re a step closer to knowing the full truth here,” the website said in a statement.

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