Tuesday, April 1, 2008

NY Legislature Passes Libel Terrorism Protection Act

I just received in the email a press release under the caption "RACHEL's LAW Unanimously Passed by NY Legislators; Thank you all for supporting the bill."

The release is put out by Assemblyman Rory I .Lancman (New York State Assembly, 25th District) and Sen. Dean G. Skelos (New York State Senate, 9th District). Here it is in its entirety, with one typo cleaned up:

Legislature Passes Libel Terrorism Protection Act To Protect American Journalists and Authors From Overseas Defamation Lawsuits

Albany, NY (March 31, 2008) – The New York State Legislature today unanimously passed the "Libel Terrorism Protection Act" (S.6687/A.9652), sponsored by Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Queens) and Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).

When signed into law by Governor David Paterson, this legislation will protect American journalists and authors from foreign lawsuits that infringe on their First Amendment rights.

In Ehrenfeld v. Mahfouz, New York State's highest court held that it would not protect Dr. Ehrenfeld from a British lawsuit filed by Saudi billionaire Khalid Salim Bin Mahfouz, where she was ordered to pay over $225,000 in damages and legal fees to Bin Mahfouz, as well as apologize and destroy existing copies of her books.

Dr. Ehrenfeld sought a court order in November of 2006 to protect her constitutional rights, but in a ruling with national First Amendment implications which sent legal shockwaves throughout newsrooms across America, as well as potentially undermining our ability to expose terrorism's financial and logistical support networks, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that it does not have jurisdiction to protect Americans -- on U.S. soil -- from foreign defamation judgments, which contradict the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The Libel Terrorism Protection Act declares overseas defamation judgments unenforceable in New York unless the foreign defamation law provides, in substance and application, the same free speech protections guaranteed under our own constitution, and it gives New York residents and publishers the opportunity to have their day in court here in New York.

"This is a great day for free speech and freedom of the press, and I urge Governor Paterson to quickly sign this legislation into law. This law will protect our journalists and authors from trumped up libel charges in kangaroo courts in overseas jurisdictions which don't share our commitment to free speech and freedom of the press," said Lancman.

"This law will give New York's journalists, authors and press the protection and tools they need to continue to fearlessly expose the truth about terrorism and its enablers, and to maintain New York's place as the free speech capitol of the world," Lancman concluded. Lancman's remarks on the Assembly floor are viewable here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zt_wvhfW7Q.

"The truth is a critically-important component in the War on Terror," said Senator Skelos. "This important new law will protect American authors and journalists who expose terrorist networks and their financiers. In its decision, the Court of Appeals called upon the State Legislature to revise the law. Today, we made clear that New York State will safeguard the First Amendment and these courageous writers." #####

To learn more about Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, her work, and her battle with Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz, Financier of Holy Terror, please visit Dr. Ehrenfeld's website, The American Center for Democracy, where you can make a contribution to support her work and her legal defense against Libel Terrorism.

I'm going to be pretty upset if I find out this press release is some kind of April Fool's prank. :)


Aurora said...

Yankee, brilliant news! Good for you for all the hard work you've done in campaigning for this. I'll have to link to you tomorrow.

Yankee Doodle said...

It is Dr. Ehrenfeld who has been fighting this battle -- together with her legal counsel and some of New York's elected officials.

I haven't even been keeping the Ehrenfeld case on the front page of my blog -- I've had a focus on the Sibel Edmonds case, and extensions and derivatives thereof.

When you link, please link to Dr. Ehrenfeld's website, so readers know where to go for more information and to make a contribution.

bernie said...

I have taken your advice and linked to Dr Ehrenfeld's website as well as linking to your post from Rachel`s Law and the Burning Cats of Genghis Khan

Yankee Doodle said...

Thanks, Bernie! That's an interesting blog you have. I have now linked it in the sidebar.

I encourage my other readers to take a look at Bernie's write-up. There is a collection of information on Dr. Ehrenfeld's case from different locations. It also has a link to the documentary about Dr. Ehrenfeld, and some other good stuff -- well worth the visit just for the cartoon and the history lesson!