• Heritage Action
  • More

Ending 'Libel Tourism:' Federal Action Needed

Recorded on February 25, 2009

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

A free press is vital to America's civil society, our democracy, and - as Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld's reporting demonstrates - our national security. Ehrenfeld's books trace the connections between the drug trade, corrupt foreign governments, major international financial institutions, and Islamic terrorists. In response to her 2003 book, Funding Evil, Khalid bin Mahfouz, an international financier and al-Qaeda conduit, sued her for libel in Britain, though neither have any ties there and the book was not published there. The court awarded Mahfouz hundreds of thousands and banned her book. This is libel tourism, and it is just one way that anti-Western forces are using law to silence their critics. Denying enforcement of foreign libel judgments that abridge First Amendment rights is a good step, but not enough. Congress needs to create powerful disincentives to keep libel tourism from chilling the expression of our core rights and values.