July 4 (UPI) -- The attorney for Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive on trial for securities fraud, opposed a gag order on his client requested by prosecutors after a courthouse rant with reporters.
Attorney Benjamin Brafman told U.S. Judge Kiyo Matsumoto in a letter that Shkreli's "comments are the somewhat natural, though unfortunate, consequence of a young man with a demonstrated history of significant anxiety being at the center of a supremely difficult time in his life."
Brafman added: "In fairness to Mr. Shkreli, the court should be aware that certain representatives of the press have gone out of their way to try to 'bait' Mr. Shkreli into making public statements that we all have worked very hard to avoid."
Shkreli made an unannounced visit to reporters last week in a separate section of the Brooklyn federal courthouse where members of the media could watch a live video feed of the trial. For about 5 minutes, according to CNBC, Shkreli gave his thoughts about the case, describing prosecutors as "junior varsity" and said one of the witnesses against him wasn't a "victim" because she made made four times her money back through his investments.
At the time, Brafman entered the room and asked Shkreli to leave.
In his letter opposing the gag order, Brafman said Shkreli is being targeted because of his widespread notoriety as a former pharmaceutical executive who legally raised the price on Daraprim, an anti-parasitic commonly used in HIV treatments, from $13.50 to $750 per tablet.
Brafman said Shkreli is being targeted "not because of his conduct, but because of who he is" and added that the media is focusing on him only because of his controversial past and character.
Shkreli was arrested in December 2015 on charges of securities fraud and wire fraud. Prosecutors allege he ran a "Ponzi scheme" between 2009 and 2014 in which he bilked investors out of a total of $11 million.
Shkreli began trial in June and has denied the charges against him.
"I'm so innocent, the jury, judge and the prosecution are gonna give me an apology," he said in a livestream.