Newspaper on the Hook for Libel Over Terror Charges

     (CN) – A member of the San Francisco Bay-area Sikh temple can bring a libel and defamation lawsuit against a newspaper that quoted him as stating the temple was training terrorists, a California appeals court ruled.




     Hardev Grewal, 73, who is an interpreter for the Alameda County Superior Court,sued the Punjab Times for statements it published about him in 2005.
     The paper stated that Grewal was against the Sikh religion and was out to destroy the Sikh nation. Grewal calls the statements articles, and the paper says they were advertisements.
     He added a libel claim to his lawsuit after the Times wrote that he called the temple school a “madrassa,” or a training school for terrorists or students of the Taliban.
     Grewal also claimed that the Times accused him of committing theft, embezzlement, and tax fraud.
     The Times responded three years later, attempting to block the lawsuit with an anti-SLAPP motion, claiming in a 206-page motion that its speech was protected since the case involved the public interest.
     The Times appealed after the trial court denied the anti-SLAPP motion, and the San Francisco-based division of California’s first appellate district affirmed.
     “It is time for the plaintiff’s case to be heard on the merits,” Justice James Richman wrote on behalf of the court, ruling that Grewal’s claims are not public issues for the purpose of the anti-SLAPP lawsuit.
     “Perhaps it is also time for the legislature to revisit whether a defendant losing an anti-SLAPP motion has an absolute right to appeal,” Richman added.

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