Thanks in large part to attention from Elizabeth Samson, 29, a local attorney and Legacy Heritage Fellow, Gov. David A. Paterson signed the Libel Terrorism Protection Act this past week, the first bill of its kind in the United States.
In two Op-eds for The Jewish Week (most recently May 2, “Uniting To Protect The First Amendment”), Samson discussed the case of Rachel Ehrenfeld, a journalist who was sued by Saudi Sheik Kahlid Salim bin Mahfouz for libel in a British court over a book that she had only published in the United States, entitled “Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed, and How to Stop It.”
Ehrenfeld had lost her case in the United Kingdom and sought a declaration from American courts to prevent Mahfouz from collecting on the grounds that the British court’s decision is not enforceable here on constitutional and public policy grounds.
“What made this case unique among other ‘libel tourism’ cases was that Ehrenfeld chose to fight back,” Samson said.
After reading Samson’s first Op-ed in The Jewish Week last December, Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Queens) said he was inspired to introduce the legislation, which was passed unanimously.
Effective immediately, the new law serves to protect writers who seek to expose the truth, Samson said.