The lawsuit was filed last month in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by five executives who had been fired or suspended. They accused Pack and his senior advisers of violating the "statutory firewall" intended to protect the news organizations from political interference.
After the suit was filed, Pack announced he had rescinded the “firewall rule” issued by the Broadcasting Board of Governors. In a statement posted on his agency's website, he said the rule wrongly prohibited him from directing broadcast operations and “made the agency difficult to manage.”
In her ruling late Friday, Judge Beryl Howell imposed preliminary injunctions that prevent Pak from making personnel decisions about journalists employed by the agency, directly communicating with them and conducting any investigations into editorial content or individual journalists.
In July, Pack had ordered an investigation into the posting of a video package featuring now President-elect Joe Biden on a VOA website. He called the segment “pro-Biden” and said his staff was weighing disciplinary action against those responsible.
Fourteen senior VOA journalists sent a letter to management in August protesting Pack's actions, including the dismissal of foreign journalists and his comments denigrating VOA staff, which they said were endangering their colleagues and the international broadcaster's credibility.
“The court confirmed that the First Amendment forbids Mr. Pack and his team from attempting to take control of these journalistic outlets, from investigating their journalists for purported ‘bias,’ and from attempting to influence or control their reporting content,” Lee Crain, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.
The global media agency did not immediately respond to a written request for comment on the ruling.
VOA was founded during World War II and its congressional charter requires it to present independent news and information to international audiences.