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Greek Diplomat Says NY Post Defamed Him

MANHATTAN (CN) - Greece's former Minister of Foreign Affairs claims the New York Post defamed him in a "sensationalist and xenophobic" article, "trashing" him as a "shopaholic" during his country's financial crisis, and falsely linking him to Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Dimitri Droutsas attended the 65th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in September 2010 to deliver an address presenting Greece's position on critical issues, including Cyprus, the Balkans, the Middle East and global security.

Droutsas says he participated in 60 significant meetings in a short span, meeting with U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki Moon, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among others.But he says Post reporter Andrea Peyser was more interested in the day he spent shopping at Woodbury Commons, an open-air outlet mall.

He objects to Peyser's Oct. 4, 2010, article that ran under the headline, "Diplos stick us with tab." The article falsely and maliciously reported that an "international incident" took place at the Woodbury Common mall, Droutsas says.

"Without providing the reader with any specific facts as to what plaintiff had actually purchased or the prices paid, defendants falsely and with malicious intent to harm wrote that plaintiff was a 'shopaholic,' meaning thereby to describe him as excessively and extremely attached to shopping as an alcoholic is to alcohol," the complaint states.

Droutsas says Peyser described his "caravans" of mandatory Secret Service protection as a "junket."

In that article, he says, Peyser also dished dirt on Ahmadinejad's stay at the Hilton and Mugabe's "$2 million shopping trip."

"This dishonest depiction of an 'international incident' was correlated to a purported exposé of wasteful spending by foreigners, stressing lavish spending by Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, two of the global leaders most justly despised, baselessly and unjustly joining plaintiff with these reviled figures," the complaint states.

Droutsas says the Post's purple prose scandalized Greece because of its continuing financial crisis.

"During a period of time when the world was well aware that Greece had instituted nationwide austerity measures to manage its debt problems, the article falsely implied that plaintiff was spending uncontrollably and lavishly. ... The article has been quoted, summarized and translated into the Greek language. This damage continues today, as the article and the defamatory statements continue to be available to the worldwide public on the Internet. The malicious denigration of plaintiff's character by deliberately associating him with Mugabe and Ahmadinejad and identifying him as an uncontrollable spender, particularly when the country he was representing was undergoing economic austerity, was calculated to defame and damage."

Droutsas seeks more than $500,000 in compensatory damages, and punitive damages.

He is represented by Gideon Cashman with Pryor Cashman.

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