Ex-WSJ reporter claims ‘hack and smear’ plan ruined him • The Register

A former Wall Street Journal reporter has sued a multinational law firm, some of its lawyers and others for allegedly stealing his emails and disseminating the messages to unfairly discredit him, leading to his firing.

Court documents charge Jay Solomon, who was the newspaper’s chief foreign affairs correspondent until his omission in 2017 [PDF] 11 defendants, including the Philadelphia-based law firm Dechert, cost him his job and damaged his reputation.

They did this in part by paying Indian hack-for-hire firms Cyber ​​Defense, BellTrox, and CyberRoot to break into the email account of Farhad Azim — one of Solomon’s sources — to conduct private communications between the to obtain both men has been claimed . Those messages were then leaked to create the false impression that the two were doing some shady business together, sources said.

This underhand slander that Solomon was being financially rewarded by a source eventually convinced the journalist’s editors to fire him, it has been claimed.

Solomon’s complaint was filed in federal court in Washington DC on Friday. Azima, an aviation tycoon, also sued the same 11 defendants last week [PDF] in federal court in New York City.

The leaked emails, according to Solomon’s lawsuit, “constituted lewd language that created the false appearance of alleged improper, unethical and/or fraudulent dealings between Mr. Solomon and Mr. Azima that never took place.”

Dechert denied any wrongdoing, a spokesman said The registry“The claim against the company is disputed and is being defended.”

Become a “person of concern”.

Solomon spent almost two decades covering foreign policy for the WSJ. In 2013, he wrote a cover story that we are told exposed a major money laundering operation in which three Iranian businessmen used government funds to buy assets for Tehran to help Iran avoid US sanctions. These three leaders were recruited by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and deployed overseas, sources said. Azima was one of Solomon’s sources for this article, which the 80-page lawsuit says resulted in “quick” episodes once published.

For one, in July of the same year, Georgia ended its visa-free policy for Iranian nationals and froze 150 Iranian bank accounts in the country, Solomon’s complaint says. As a result of Solomon’s reporting, he allegedly came into the crosshairs of Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud bin Saqr Al Qasim, ruler of the Middle East Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. It has been claimed that the Georgian raid prevented Iranian businessmen from buying assets – such as a hotel in Georgia – from royals for the Revolutionary Guard without drawing the wrath of Americans.

“Sheikh Saud was unable to sell his assets to the three IRGC moneymen who were in the midst of what is literally the largest Iranian money-laundering operation in the world,” the complaint reads. “Sheikh Saud could have been fined by the US for sanctions violations.

According to Solomon’s lawsuit, Azima was a friend of Sheikh Saud and acted as a middleman in the Iranian transactions, although the king later became suspicious and feared the business tycoon was conspiring with others to overthrow him.

In 2014, Sheikh Saud hired Dechert to investigate allegations of fraud against Ras Al Khaimah’s investment agency, Rakia. However, according to Solomon’s court documents, this “commitment to ethical legal services” soon evolved and eventually included the allegedly illegal hack-for-hire that led to Solomon’s downfall.

After the defendants hired the Indian companies to break into Azima’s email account, they leaked the emails to the journalist’s employer, sources said. In 2016, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington, DC bureau chief summoned Solomon to meet with Dow Jones’ attorneys. WSJ is a division of Dow Jones, and Dow Jones News Corp is also a Dechert customer, according to the lawsuit.

The court documents detail what allegedly happened at that meeting:

Then, in June 2017, Solomon received a call from an Associated Press reporter who, according to the lawsuit, appeared to have shared email communications between Solomon and Azima. These documents appeared to show that Azima Solomon was offering a 10 percent stake in Denx. In essence, Solomon was accused of getting too close to a key source’s business activities.

Solomon denied having any dealings or arrangements with Denx. The AP published its investigation, and in July of that year, the Wall Street Journal fired Solomon. “We have concluded that Mr. Solomon violated his ethical obligations as a reporter and violated our standards,” the publication said at the time.

After the newspaperman’s resignation, the AP noted, “It was not clear if Solomon ever received any money or formally accepted an interest in Denx.” Solomon continued to insist that he had no shares in the company and had not taken over.

At the time of his release, the journalist told the AP, “I have never done business with Farhad Azima, nor did I intend to do so in any seriously disturbing activity. I apologize to my bosses and colleagues at the Journal who have been nothing but great to me.”

The alleged “hack-and-smear operation” not only cost him his job, but also damaged Solomon’s reputation and prevented him from securing further jobs as an investigative reporter, his lawsuit states.

“Moreover, this criminal and extortionate activity effectively resulted in Mr. Solomon being blacklisted by the journalist and publishing community in Washington, New York and elsewhere, and further harmed his business and property by breaching the existing book publishing contracts of Mr. Solomon’s devaluation as the market value of the books he publishes are intrinsically tied to his employment status and reputation as a journalist,” the court documents said. ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/10/18/jay_solomon_lawsuit_hack_and_smear/ Ex-WSJ reporter claims ‘hack and smear’ plan ruined him • The Register

Rick Schindler

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