This Sunday, January 13th at 10:30 a.m. on the steps of the New York Public Library, 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, I urge you to attend a bi partisan news conference by New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assemblyman Rory I. Lancman where they will announce legislation designed to protect journalists, author and publishers s from lawsuits filed outside the U.S. by foreign nationals seeking to muzzle the First Amendment rights of American citizens, particular those reporting on terrorism and its financiers.
This effort comes on the heels of a New York Court of Appeals ruling that has stunned many in the legal, media, and publishing community.
The court held it could not protect New York author Rachel Ehrenfeld from a British lawsuit she lost by default filed by Saudi billionaire Khalid Salim bin Mahfouz where she was ordered to pay over $225,000 for detailing in her book how Bin Mahfouz, and some of his family, are allegedly tied to funding terrorist organizations. Bin Mahfouz used the U.K. legal system to obtain more than 36 similar judgments, affecting the U.S. media.
Ms. Ehrenfeld sought a court order to protect her Constitutional rights, but in a ruling with First Amendment implications sending legal shockwaves throughout newsrooms across America, as well as potentially undermining our ability to expose terrorism’s financial and logistical support networks of our enemies, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that it does not have jurisdiction to protect Americans – on U.S. soil – from a foreign defamation verdict.
The two lawmakers, Ehrenfeld, and members of the bar, will warn that without this legislation, the contents of the New York Public Library could be subject to assault by off shore nationals seeking to silence public debate in America. Your participation would add enormously to this effort and underscore the gravity of the threat.