U.S. judge declines to block Commerce Department WeChat order

A U.S. flag is seen on a smartphone in front of displayed Tik Tok and WeChat logos in this illustration taken September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. judge in California declined to block the Commerce Department order issued on Friday that will prohibit U.S. app stores from offering Tencent Holding’s WeChat for download starting late Sunday.

Judge Laurel Beeler said the request for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by U.S. WeChat users appeared moot after the Commerce order but said in an written order “the court is available today for a hearing on any emergency motions.” A lawyer for the WeChat users did not immediately comment.

Beeler issued a follow-up order that said lawyers for the WeChat users “will file something by 10:45 a.m. (PDT) about why the motion is not moot.” She tentatively sets a Zoom hearing for 11:00 a.m. (PDT)(1700 GMT).

The Justice Department said Friday in a court filing that Beeler should reject the request, saying President Donald Trump “has invoked his emergency powers to address (the WeChat) threat, and plaintiffs have articulated no legal basis for the Court to take the extraordinary step of enjoining his exercise of that authority.”

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