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LOS ANGELES -- Some U.S.-based users of WeChat are suing President Donald Trump in a bid to block an executive order that they say would effectively bar access in the U.S. to the hugely popular Chinese messaging app.

The complaint, filed Friday in San Francisco, is being brought by the nonprofit U.S. WeChat Users Alliance and several people who say they rely on the app for work, worship and staying in touch with relatives in China. The plaintiffs said they are not affiliated with WeChat, nor its parent company, Tencent Holdings.

In the lawsuit, they asked a federal court judge to stop Trump's executive order from being enforced, claiming it would violate its U.S. users' freedom of speech, free exercise of religion and other constitutional rights.

"We think there's a First Amendment interest in providing continued access to that app and its functionality to the Chinese-American community," Michael Bien, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, said Saturday.

Trump on Aug. 6 ordered sweeping but vague bans on transactions with the Chinese owners of WeChat and another popular consumer app, TikTok, saying they are a threat to U.S. national security, foreign policy and the economy.

The twin executive orders -- one for each app -- are expected to take effect Sept. 20, or 45 days from when they were issued. The orders call on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who is also named as a defendant in the U.S. WeChat Users Alliance lawsuit, to define the banned dealings by that time.

It remains unclear what the orders will mean for the apps' millions of users in the U.S., but experts have said the orders appear intended to bar WeChat and TikTok from the app stores run by Apple and Google. That would make them more difficult to use in the U.S.

WeChat, which has more than 1 billion users, is less well-known than TikTok to Americans without a connection to China.

More states reject

Kanye West's bid

Bloomberg News

Voters in three more states won't see Kanye West on their ballots for president this year.

Election officials in Ohio, Illinois and West Virginia ruled Friday that the rapper, who announced in July he was running for president as an independent, didn't qualify to appear on their state ballots. The rulings came a day after officials in Wisconsin and Montana decided that West wasn't eligible.

West was disqualified in Ohio because information and a signature on a nominating petition and statement of candidacy for the rapper and running mate Michelle Tidball didn't match the paperwork used to gather needed voter signatures, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in a release.

In Illinois, West's home state, the state Board of Elections voted 8-0 on Friday that he's ineligible for the ballot there because he lacked the 2,500 valid signatures needed, spokesman Matt Dietrich said. About 1,300 signatures were determined not to be genuine or the signer wasn't registered at the address shown, Dietrich said.

Election officials in West Virginia determined that West's campaign had only 6,383 of the 7,144 valid signatures needed to qualify, said Jennifer Gardner, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission voted 5-1 on Thursday to deny ballot access to West because his campaign turned in nomination papers there after the filing deadline on Aug. 4, spokesman Reid Magney said. In Montana, officials determined that West's campaign had only 3,972 valid signatures, short of the 5,000 needed to qualify, according to Susan Ames of the Montana secretary of state's office.

West has qualified to appear on the ballot in at least Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Utah and Vermont, according to spokespersons for the election offices in those states. A spokesman for the Iowa secretary of state's office said West's nominating petitions have been accepted in that state but are still subject to objections.

Print Headline: Suit seeks to stop ban on WeChat


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