By Eric Beech and Kanishka Singh
(Reuters) – My Pillow Inc’s chief executive, Mike Lindell, an ally of former President Donald Trump, sued the US Justice Department on Tuesday seeking the return of his cellphone, which FBI agents seized last week.
In his suit in federal court in Minnesota, Lindell said the agents stopped him at a fast-food restaurant’s drive-through window and questioned him about his claims that the 2020 US election was rigged.
The agents then produced a warrant and told Lindell to surrender the phone, according to the court filing. In addition to the return of his phone from him, Lindell wants to stop the Justice Department from accessing any data collected from the device, the filing showed.
The FBI last week confirmed its agents were “at that location executing a search warrant authorized by a federal judge” but did not give other details. The FBI and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment late on Tuesday.
Lindell told the media last week that FBI agents had asked him about Tina Peters, a Mesa County, Colorado clerk.
Peters, with whom Lindell has been linked, has been accused by state authorities of allowing an unauthorized person to break into the county’s election system in order to search for evidence that would validate Trump’s election conspiracy claims.
Lindell’s suit against the US Justice Department, which also listed US Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray as defendants, alleged that Lindell’s constitutional rights were violated by the seizure.
After his phone was seized on Sept. 13, Lindell claimed in a podcast that the seizure prevented him from carrying out his business activities and from accessing his funds.
“Not only do I run five businesses off of it, I don’t use a laptop, I don’t use a computer, everything was on that phone,” Lindell said.
Separately, on Monday, a Minnesota federal judge ruled that Lindell must face a defamation suit brought by a voting machine company that Lindell falsely accused of rigging the 2020 US election.
(Reporting by Eric Beech and Kanishka Singh; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Edwina Gibbs)