By Jessica Dye
NEW YORK, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Two men whose brother pleaded
guilty to terrorism charges can proceed with their libel lawsuit
accusing a local Fox TV station of unfairly implicating them in
their brother's crimes, a Brooklyn judge has ruled.
Kings County Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack on Monday
denied Fox Television Stations Inc's motion to dismiss the 2011
lawsuit filed by brothers Walid and Mohamed El-Hanafi over an
April 2010 news story aired by Fox 5, its affiliate in New York
The story concerned an indictment unsealed against the
plaintiffs' brother, Wesam El-Hanafi, who was charged by
Manhattan federal prosecutors in 2010 with providing material
support to al Qaeda militants in Yemen. Fox 5 aired a story
about the indictment that showed pictures of the Brooklyn house
that the brothers shared and included pictures and legal
documents identifying the brothers, the ruling said.
The brothers argued that the story implied that they had
some connection to their sibling's activity.
Fox moved to dismiss the complaint, saying that the story
did not convey any defamatory meaning that would open the
brothers up to ridicule, humiliation or shame, the ruling said.
But Schack found that there was a legitimate basis for the
plaintiffs' claim that the average viewer could walk away from
the story believing that the two unindicted brothers were guilty
of their brother's crimes.
"The sequence of cuts in the subject news story could
implant in the minds of the average viewer that plaintiffs and
their indicted brother all engaged in terrorist activities,
including wiring money abroad, and that the once friendly
relationship plaintiffs had with their neighbors in Bath Beach
has turned to suspicion, fear and mistrust," Schack wrote.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Robert Ryba, said he was
pleased with the decision. Representatives for Fox Television
could not be immediately reached for comment Monday.
Wesam El-Hanafi pleaded guilty in June to one count of
providing material support to al Qaeda and conspiracy.
The case is El-Hanafi v. Fox Television Stations Inc,
Supreme Court of the State of New York, Kings County, No.
For the plaintiffs: Robert Ryba.
For the defendants: Slade Metcalf and Katherine Bolger of
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