Damning revelations from the Amber Heard v Johnny Depp defamation case continue to appear, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) testifying that staffers from the organisation ghost-wrote Heard’s infamous op-ed in the Washington Post, which is at the centre of the defamation case.
On day 11 of the trial, the ACLU claimed the article was written internally, with the timing of the pitch carefully planned around the release of Aquaman (Heard’s upcoming film at the time).
Email correspondence has shown that Robin Shulman, a communications strategist within the ACLU, wrote the first draft of the op-ed in November 2018. Following that, Heard’s legal team is said to have made changes to avoid any obvious incrimination of Depp.
Terence Dougherty, general counsel and COO of the ACLU, also testified about the back-and-forth correspondence which took place while settling on a final draft. He claims that Heard pushed to have more details of her marriage to Depp included and was looking to have a deleted passage restored.
“The language that wound up in the final op-ed piece was very different from the original language” Dougherty said.
The ACLU also claims it was charged with pitching the op-ed to a number of outlets, with the organisation originally considering the likes of Teen Vogue and The New York Times, before settling on The Washington Post.
Gerry Johnson, another ACLU associate, can be seen discussing the opportunity to release the op-ed just before the release of Aquaman, in a bid to drum up press around Heard before the premiere.
“Since draft turned out pretty strong and Aquaman slated to do large numbers I’m wondering what you think about it?” he wrote in an email thread.
Another staffer is then alleged to have agreed that the timing of the op-ed should be published as quick as possible, “to capitalize on the tremendous campaign for Aquaman.”
Doughtery later told the court that Heard had paid just $1.3 million of the $3.5 million she agreed to donate, with her ex boyfriend Elon Musk contributing $500,000 of that amount.
It is unclear what the exact arrangement was for the money to be paid.
After agreeing on the sum, the ACLU claim they drew up a formal pledge to lock the financial deal in place, which was never signed.
“We reached out to Heard starting in 2019 for the next instalment of her giving and we learned that she was having financial difficulties,” said Dougherty.
The trial continues.