Justice Department asks judge to allow U.S. to bar WeChat from U.S. app stores

FILE PHOTO: The messenger app WeChat is seen among U.S. flags in this illustration picture taken Aug. 7, 2020. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Justice Department early Friday asked a federal judge in San Francisco to allow the government to bar Apple Inc AAPL.O and Alphabet Inc’s Google GOOGL.O from offering WeChat for download in U.S. app stores pending an appeal.

The filing asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco to put on hold her preliminary injunction issued Saturday. That injunction had blocked the U.S. Commerce Department order which was set to take effect late Sept. 20 and that would also bar other U.S. transactions with Tencent Holding’s 0700.HK WeChat, potentially making the app unusable in the United States.

The Justice Department filing said Beeler’s order “permits the continued, unfettered use of WeChat, a mobile application that the Executive Branch has determined constitutes a threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

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