The Huffington Post is being sued by a Panamanian man who says the website falsely credited him with an article that may have influenced a rash of killings in Pakistan targeting health workers who offer polio vaccinations.
Attorney Juan Noriega of Panama City filed a federal lawsuit in Washington, DC against the Huffington Post, accusing the news aggregation site with defamation and invasion of privacy.
Noriega says Huffington Post listed him as the author of an August 2012 blog post that accused the US Central Intelligence Agency of running a bogus vaccination campaign in Pakistan in order to obtain information on the whereabouts of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“[T]housands of innocent children all over Pakistan may be crippled for life with polio, and thousands of others may die from hepatitis, because the CIA ran a fake vaccination scheme,” the article titled ‘The primacy of the rule of law’ reads.
While the CIA did indeed rely on Pakistani physician Dr. Shakeel Afridi to obtain intelligence on bin Laden by way of an immunization scam, the plaintiff in the federal lawsuit is upset over how he is portrayed as the author of the article despite having no affiliation with the website.
“By maliciously and negligently allowing, approving, and assisting with the publishing of this article, defendant defamed plaintiff by making it appear that he blames the United States government and the CIA for running a fake vaccination campaign in Pakistan,” the complaint reads.
According to Noreiga’s attorney, it’s “unconscionable that the Huffington Post would not have done a modicum of due diligence before putting out an article on a subject like this, or any subject, without verifying the author.”
The suit claims that because in part of the article he’s attributed with, Taliban militants have killed innocent physicians attempting to tame Pakistan’s out-of-control polio epidemic.
The article, claims Noriega, “has caused Pakistani parents not to inoculate their children, and caused the death of doctors by the Taliban in retaliation to the scam.”
On Tuesday, five Pakistani women and a man were killed in separate attacks on health workers attempting to immune people against the debilitating illness, the New York Times reports. In response to the assaults, the health minister for southern Sindh Province has ordered 24,000 aid workers assisting with the effort to stop immediately.
“There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Taliban insurgents have repeatedly vowed to target anti-polio workers, accusing them of being spies,” reports the Times.
“The primacy of the rule law,”