WASHINGTON: US president Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden has sued Rudy Giuliani and Giuliani’s former lawyer Robert Costello, accusing the pair of violating Hunter Biden’s privacy over data allegedly taken from his laptop, court documents filed on Tuesday showed.

Biden in a lawsuit filed in a federal court in Los Angeles accused Giuliani, who has served as a personal lawyer for former president Donald Trump, and Costello of being responsible for the “total annihilation” of his digital privacy.

Biden, 53, previously sued a former White House aide who served under Trump and the US Internal Revenue Service. Republicans have focused on Hunter Biden as President Joe Biden, a Democrat, seeks re-election next year.

The legal action was filed as Hunter Biden prepares to plead not guilty to federal gun charges next week after an earlier plea deal with prosecutors fell apart.

His trial in Delaware is the first-ever prosecution of a sitting US president’s child, and comes as Joe Biden could again face Trump, who faces four upcoming criminal cases of his own, in 2024.

Trump and congressional Republicans, without evidence, have separately accused the Democratic president of profiting while he served as vice-president from 2009 to 2017 from his son’s foreign business ventures. The White House has denied the accusations.

Costello declined to immediately comment on the lawsuit. Ted Goodman, a Giuliani adviser, rejected Biden’s allegations, saying in a statement: “I’m not surprised he’s now falsely claiming his laptop hard drive was manipulated.”

The president’s son accused the pair of claiming to have obtained data taken or stolen from his devices or storage platforms, including a laptop, but noted that Giuliani and Costello in public statements cited an “external drive.”

“Although the precise timing and manner by which Defendants obtained Plaintiff’s data remains unknown to Plaintiff, there is no dispute that Defendants have, at least to some extent, accessed, tampered with, manipulated, altered, copied and damaged Plaintiff’s data, and that their actions are illegal, unauthorized, and without Plaintiff’s consent,” the lawsuit said.

Hunter Biden is seeking punitive damages and disgorgement of all money Giuliani and Costello may have obtained from their activities, as well as the restoration of any data they still possess that belongs to him, the filing said.

The filing adds to Giuliani’s mounting legal issues. Costello and his law firm earlier this month separately sued Giuliani over more than $1.3 million in unpaid legal fees. Giuliani was found liable last month for defaming two election workers and separately pleaded not guilty in early September to Georgia election subversion charges. - Reuters

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