ricardo dominguez on Fri, 20 Jul 2001 20:43:16 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> EFF,Bank Drags Journalist into NY Court Over Drug Expose,Jul 17

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release Advisory

Bank Pres Drags Journalist into NY Court Over Drug Expose

Electronic Frontier Foundation Urges U.S. Court to Respect Mexican Rulings

For Immediate Release: July 17, 2001
Contact: Cindy Cohn, EFF Legal Dir.,
  +1 415 436 9333 x108

Will Doherty, EFF Online Activist / Media Relations,
  +1 415 436 9333 x111

New York - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today urged a New York
state court to respect Mexican court rulings that have disallowed lawsuits
against independent journalist Al Giordano for publishing allegations of
drug trafficking by Banco Nacional de Mexico President Roberto Hernandez

EFF seeks to protect the First Amendment rights of online, independent
journalists against the abusive "shopping" by large, powerful corporations
for favorable jurisdictions. The Mexican bank brought the case against a
Mexican-based website, produced solely by Giordano, the Narco News

"The EFF is concerned that the bank resorted to New York courts to try to
shut down this website because it could not do so in Mexican courts," said
Cindy Cohn, Legal Director for the EFF. "This kind of forum shopping
threatens to shut down one of the greatest benefits of the Internet --
giving a voice to independent, Internet-based journalists. Faced with
having to defend themselves in far-flung jurisdictions, many independent
journalists will simply choose not to publish on the Internet."

The case arises from allegations published on the the Narco News Bulletin
website that the bank president was involved in illegal activities in
Mexico. The EFF filed an amicus brief urging the New York court to rule
that it was improper for the bank to force Mr. Giordano into New York
state court for the statements posted on the website. The hearing on the
case is set for July 20, 2001.

Since April 18, 2000, Al Giordano has produced the Narco News Bulletin, an
online newspaper devoted to spirited investigative journalism on the
US-Latin America drug trade. Articles posted on the Narco News Bulletin
website have discussed allegations by others that Roberto Hernandez
Ramirez, the president of the Banco Nacional de Mexico, is involved in
drug trafficking. Some of these stories were reprinted articles from the
Mexican newspaper Por Esto!, published in Mexico by Mario Renato Menendez.

After failing three times to successfully sue Menendez in Mexico over the
allegations, Banco Nacional de Mexico now seeks to force Menendez and
Giordano to defend themselves in New York state court against the same
basic claims. The New York case groups together the allegations against
the Mexican-based website, hosted in Maryland, with statements made by
Menendez and Giordano in New York City on a radio broadcast and at a
Columbia University Law School conference.

The EFF amicus brief asked the Court to adopt one of two courses of
action. First, in order to deter abusive forum shopping, the EFF asked the
court to dismiss the case since Mexican law governs the dispute.

Alternatively, since Narconews.com mainly republished investigative work
done by others, the EFF asked the New York court to apply a distinct legal
standard for libel claims related to republished statements. The legal
standard requires that a republisher had, or should have had substantial
reasons to question the accuracy of the articles. EFF believes that this
higher liability standard for republishing on the Internet is necessary to
encourage the growth of Internet journalism.

About EFF: The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil
liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world.
Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and
government to support free expression, privacy, and openness in the
information society. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains
one of the most linked-to Web sites in the world:

Note: though the previous EFF press release stated that the amicus brief
was filed July 12, 2001, the brief was actually filed on July 17, 2001.

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