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Nizar Hindawi and Anne Murphy

Irish High Court rules that libel action against US media can proceed in Ireland

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Nizar Hindawi and Anne Murphy

A Wicklow woman has begun legal action against the Washington Post-owned website Slate.com, which she claims defamed her in an article about a Jordanian terrorist.

A high court judge in Ireland gave her permission to commence the libel suit in Ireland because the article was published worldwide.

In 1986, Anne Murphy, now living in Wicklow, unknowingly carried bombs placed by her boyfriend in her suitcase aboard a flight from London to Israel. She was heavily pregnant at the time.

Slate.com wrote that “When the girlfriend of Jordanian terrorist Nizar Hindawi tried to carry a bomb onto an El Al flight out of London’s Heathrow airport in 1986, security agents working for the Israeli airline and using Israeli screening methods successfully identified her as a potential threat and foiled the plot.”

Her lawyer Iain Montgomery said the article on Israeli security at airports stated: “Israeli security screeners can make a claim that their US counterparts probably can’t - they’ve actually caught a terrorist red-handed.”
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Murphy, who is now living in Bray, was granted leave by Dublin’s High Court to serve a claim for damages.

The Irish Examiner reports that Murphy’s legal team believe she was defamed in the internet posting on a site controlled by the Washington Post media group.

The alleged article appeared on the website Slate.com in a posting described in court as a "cyber tort."

Her lawyer claimed the article published on the site last January referred to Murphy.

At the time of the publication Murphy was the girlfriend of Nizar Hindawi who had been referred to in the article as a Jordanian terrorist.

In an affidavit, Montgomery said that he believed the article meant that Ann Murphy was a terrorist and that she attempted to bomb an airline flight.

“Neither of these statements is true and I have advised my client that the article therefore constitutes a defamatory statement,” Montgomery told the court.

“The article was available to access within Ireland on the slate.com website and Mrs Murphy had personally done so.

“As the article was published in Ireland, Mrs Murphy’s action was founded on a tort committed within the jurisdiction, allowing the court to grant leave to serve a summons out of the jurisdiction.”

Montgomery also stated that the intended defendant, The Washington Post Company, was a limited liability company registered in Delaware, USA, with its registered executive offices at 15th Street, N.W. Washington, D.C.

The Examiner reports that he said the witnesses to the contents, publication and untruth of the statements contained in the article were all resident in Ireland and as such Ireland was the jurisdiction in which the intended action be heard.

Judge Gerard Hogan said that since the article was published world wide the proceedings could be described as a cyber tort. He added that what he was dealing with was a simple procedural matter of being satisfied as to allow the summons to be issued outside the jurisdiction.

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