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Haitian Prime Minister Alleges Defamation And Sues U.S. Newspaper

Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe has sued a Haitian-American newspaper for defamation following a series of reports that detailed the sale of a telecommunications company to the Haitian government.

Lamothe and South Florida businessman Patrice Baker filed a lawsuit filed in Miami federal court on Monday alleging that the Haiti-Observateur’s reporting on the sale of Haitel was “outrageous, scandalous and reminiscent of a tabloid publication,” according to the Jamaica Observer.

Salim Succar, the Special Adviser to Lamonthe, said “the newspaper spread false information about the prime minister and we are taking legal measures to request that they be retracted or appropriate remedy is given.”

The Haiti-Observateur published articles in August and early September that “began to spread false and defamatory statements” about the roles Lamothe and Baker played in Haitel’s sale, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said the newspaper falsely and maliciously reported that Lamothe and Baker orchestrated Haitel’s sale, and that Lamothe stands to receive the “lion’s share” of the proceeds after fixing Haitel’s $25 million sale price.

The newspaper repeated the false and defamatory statements after Lamothe and Baker requested a retraction, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also alleged that the Haiti-Observateur articles implicate Lamothe and Baker in illegal business practices, racketeering, corruption and conspiracy, damaging their reputations within their political and business communities.

The Haitian telecom shut down earlier this year after failing to pay its debts. It was then acquired by the Haitian government.

Lamothe, a former telecommunications executive, took office in May, filling a nearly three-month vacancy after President Michel Martelly’s first prime minister resigned after just four months on the job.

The Brooklyn, N.Y. –based Haiti-Observateur has been publishing since 1971 and serves Haiti’s large diaspora communities in New York, Florida, Montreal and the Caribbean.

Reporter Leo Joseph said Thursday that the newspaper’s attorney was reviewing the lawsuit, but reiterated that he stood behind his reporting.

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