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(Sept. 7, 2001) -- Continuing her ongoing display of courage and truth telling as the lone member of Congress willing to tackle risky issues such as Cointelpro, US inspired antics in Colombia and Africa and other illegal covert operations, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, (D) GA. Has now come out as true defender of independent journalists all over the world. FTW has previously reported on the devastating lawsuit brought by Banco Nacional de Mexico (Banamex) owner Roberto Hernandez against NarcoNews Publisher Al Giordano and Mario Menendez of the Mexican daily, "Por Esto." You can now read her letter to former Democratic National Chairman Robert Strauss who heads the powerful law firm of Aikin Gump which is bringing the suit on behalf of Banamex.

After having lost a lawsuit and an appeal in Mexico, Hernandez decided this year to throw his billions at the two journalists - who publish in Mexico - for successfully exposing his connections to drug trafficking on the Yucatan Peninsula and his relations with politicians including Bill Clinton, Vicente Fox and George W Bush. He brought the suit, widely regarded as meritless, in New York City. If successful, that would have meant that an Internet journalist in any country might successfully be sued in any other country in the world where the legal system was friendlier to the plaintiff. Such a move would have us all travelling the world to defend our stories.

In May, Citigroup announced that it was buying Banamex for $12.5 billion dollars.

Now, Cynthia McKinney speaks out - against money and power - to defend our most precious of liberties - freedom of speech and of the press. FTW encourages its readers to contact McKinney and express support for her actions. You can use the phone, a fax or send an email:

202-225-1605 -- phone
202-226-0691 -- fax -- email


September 6, 2001

The Honorable Robert S. Strauss
Senior Executive Partner
Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP
Robert S. Strauss Building
1333 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20036

Dear Ambassador Strauss:

I am writing to express my deep concern and protest over a lawsuit that your firm, Akin, Gump, Strauss & Feld, LLP, has brought in New York State Supreme Court on behalf of the National Bank of Mexico (Banamex) against an Internet news agency, The Narco News Bulletin, published by Mr. Al Giordano and the Mexican journalist Mr. Mario Menendez.

I am disappointed that a lawsuit was brought by a firm bearing your name and is clearly, as many of the most-respected media critics in the country have noted, aimed at chilling the free speech of Narco News. Every one of these respected journalists has found only ethical and truthful practice of journalism by the defendants being sued by your powerful clients.

Because Narco News is a shoestring, non-profit project in journalism, the lawsuit on behalf of your billionaire clients threatens not only its continued publication, but also the freedom of speech on the Internet throughout the world, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently noted in its amicus brief on behalf of Narco News.

Mr. Giordano is a respected journalist telling the truth from Latin America about the war on drugs, espousing concerns with which you are familiar. Mr. Giordano documents events of concern to Americans on whose behalf the drug war is being waged in Latin America, at risk to his own safety. He should not be facing a lawsuit meant to silence him and shut down his web site.

I write to bring this to your attention because, as a senior partner in a large law firm and former Chairman of the Democratic Party, you should be aware that attorneys from your firm are engaging in this transparent attack on freedom of the press, on behalf of billionaire corporate clients, in your name.

If a billionaire client with voluminous resources disagrees with the words posted by a journalist of modest means on a web site, that client has ample resources to publicize its own side of the story. This kind of dispute does not belong in our nation's already-overburdened court system, and will only lead to the ultimate vindication of the material presented on Narco News, but only after a costly and chilling episode of judicial harassment.

Given the recent agreement to sell Banamex to Citigroup for $12.5 billion, the claims made of economic damage to Banamex by a low-budget web site and by valiant independent journalists are ludicrous. This case should never have been brought to Court. There is no libel to be found in this situation, and the lawsuit is without merit. A difference of opinion in the characterization of a person or persons, based on documented fact, does not constitute libel, as the courts have established. The only purpose of this lawsuit is to stifle Mr. Giordano from continuing his activities.

I urge you to correct this injustice of economic might contravening our nation's most sacred right, the right to free speech. Please direct the managers of this lawsuit to cease the case immediately, and issue a formal apology to Mr. Giordano.


Cynthia McKinney
Member of Congress

cc: Justice Paula Omansky, New York Supreme Court
New York Congressional Delegation
Massachusetts Congressional Delegation
Al Giordano, Publisher, The Narco-News Bulletin
Lee Tien, Electronic Frontier Foundation

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