Back in 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that antiquities dealer Hicham Aboutaam and his brother were being investigated to see if they sold anything that had been looted by ISIS.
Aboutaam sued the Journal‘s publisher, Dow Jones, in 2017. As iMediaEthics reported at the time, the May 31 article, “Prominent Arm Family Entangled in ISIS Antiquities-Looting Investigations,” relied on numerous anonymous sources and noted the brothers weren’t charged and denied having sold “any looted items, let alone items looted by ISIS.”
But this week, the New York State Supreme Court dismissed Aboutaam’s lawsuit saying the article reported on the investigation and didn’t claim he actually had sold any looted items.
“The decision to truthfully report on an ongoing law enforcement investigation is ultimately a question of journalistic judgment,” Justice Robert D. Kalish ruled, according to the New York Times. “Unless the reporting on such an investigation is materially false or affirmatively creates false suggestions, it is not for the courts to question an editorial judgment to report on an ongoing investigation.”
Wall Street Journal spokesperson Steve Severinghaus told iMediaEthics by e-mail, “We are pleased with the court’s thoughtful and comprehensive decision dismissing this defamation lawsuit.”