Lawsuit Filed Against Defense Department for Canceling ‘Sound of Freedom’ Screenings

The Heritage Foundation Oversight Project has taken legal action against the Department of Defense after two planned screenings of the movie “Sound of Freedom” were abruptly canceled by the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). Based on the true story of Tim Ballard, a former Department of Homeland Security agent, “Sound of Freedom” depicts his efforts to rescue children from the horrors of sex trafficking. Despite facing obstacles, the movie gained recognition for its raw portrayal of child sex slavery and became a box office hit after its release on July 4.

SOUTHCOM, which regularly collaborates with partners in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean, to address human trafficking issues in the region, called off two scheduled screenings of “Sound of Freedom” at its headquarters in August and October. The provided reasoning for the cancellations was alleged copyright and intellectual property concerns. However, the film’s producer, Eduardo Verástegui, refuted this claim, stating that there were no such conflicts.

Verástegui expressed his desire to express gratitude and inspiration to the brave soldiers of SOUTHCOM who work to dismantle the criminal organizations responsible for drug and sex trafficking into the U.S. He offered to host a private screening on the base and assured that there were no copyright issues with SOUTHCOM hosting the film in theaters. He even proposed sending the filmmakers to personally meet with the troops at the screening, as well as delivering a copy of the film to them to show support in their fight against child sex trafficking.

However, SOUTHCOM leadership rejected these offers, providing various reasons for their decision. In response, Verástegui expressed his hope that the matter would be resolved promptly so that the troops could have the opportunity to be moved by the film’s powerful message, just like the tens of millions of other people who have seen it and voiced their support against the trafficking of children.

The Oversight Project initially attempted to uncover the reasons behind the cancellation by submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in September. However, the complaint alleges that the request was not adequately addressed. Consequently, the lawsuit seeks for the Defense Department to conduct a comprehensive search for and disclose all records related to the FOIA request.

A spokesperson for the Defense Department declined to comment on the ongoing legal proceedings. The lawsuit aims to shed light on the circumstances that led to the cancellation of the screenings and ensure transparency regarding the decision-making process. The outcome of the lawsuit will determine the extent to which the Department of Defense is held accountable for its actions, and may have implications for future film screenings and collaborations with military organizations.


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