Palestinian Leader’s Son Claims Defamation

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The son of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says in Federal Court that an American magazine falsely accused him of greedily exploiting his father’s connections.
     Yasser Abbas took issue with an article titled “The Brothers Abbas” that Jonathan Schanzer wrote for Foreign Policy Group, a division of the Washington Post Co. The subheadline to the article reads: “Are the sons of the Palestinian President growing rich off their father’s system?”
     Schanzer, who serves as vice president for research for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, “only used sources that supported his point of view,” according to the complaint.
     Abbas says the article falsely accuses his tobacco company Falcon Tobacco of holding a monopoly on the sale of U.S. cigarettes in the Palestinian territories. It also allegedly misrepresents that another of his companies, Falcon Electrical Mechanical Contracting Company (FEMC), received $1.89 million in U.S. aid.
     “In fact, FEMC has not ‘received $1.89 million from USAID in 2005,” Abbas says. “Neither this contract nor any others were awarded to plaintiff as a result of his being the son of President Abbas.”
     Falcon Tobacco cigarettes meanwhile come primarily from Turkey and Switzerland, according to the complaint.
     Abbas says disputes the article for allegedly reporting that his companies, including Falcon Global Telecommunication Services Company and Falcon General Investment Company, generate $35 million in revenue a year.
     “In fact, the Falcon companies revenues may have totaled some $35 million per annum in about 2005/6, but from 2006 onwards fell steadily to some 15 percent of that figure, but this does not equate to income for plaintiff because in the case of tobacco for example, approximately 93 percent of revenues were accounted for in cigarette costs, taxes and custom fees,” according to the complaint.
     The article also falsely reports that Abbas owns $3.25 million in stock of Al-Mashreq Insurance Company, Abbas says. He claims he owns only 2.85 percent of the shares, making his value in the company $92,625.
     Abbas says the article’s conclusion that he used his ties to the Palestinian government to secure “nearly $300,000 in USAID funds between 2005 and 2008” is false as well.
     “In fact, despite the reference to work done by plaintiff on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, the company did not win business because plaintiff’s father was President of the Palestinian Authority,” Abbas says.
     He claims Schanzer’s article “relies in large part on an allegation by Mohammed Rachid, a man with ample motivation to lie given his own prosecution for corruption, conviction within weeks of when the article was written, and his subsequent 15 year sentence for embezzlement, that President Abbas has hidden away ‘$100 million in ill-gotten gains.'”
     Abbas seeks punitive damages from Schanzer and Foreign Policy Group for five counts of libel. He is represented by Dwight Stephens of Melito Adolfsen in Manhattan.

%d bloggers like this: