Former Wall Street Journal reporter says a law firm used Indian hackers to sabotage his career

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A former Wall Street Journal reporter accuses a major US law firm of using mercenary hackers to oust him from his job and damage his reputation.

In a lawsuit filed late Friday, Jay Solomon, the paper’s former chief foreign correspondent, said Philadelphia-based Deckert LLP worked with hackers from India to steal emails between him and one of his main sources, Iran-US aviation director Farhad Azim. .

Solomon said the messages, which showed Azima floating the idea of ​​the two getting into business together, were put on file and circulated in a successful attempt to get him fired.

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The lawsuit, filed in Washington federal court, said Deckert falsely disclosed this file first to Mr. Solomon’s employer, the Wall Street Journal, in her Washington, DC, office, and then to other media outlets in an attempt to discredit him. The campaign “effectively caused the press and publishing community to double down on Mr. Solomon,” she said.

Deckert did not immediately respond with a message seeking comment. Azim, who filed a lawsuit against Deckert on Thursday in New York, did not immediately send a letter. Read more

Solomon’s lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal actions that follow Reuters’ reports of hackers operating out of India. In June, Reuters reported the activities of several paid hacking stores, including Delhi-area firms BellTroX and CyberRoot, which were involved in a decade-long series of spying campaigns targeting thousands of people, including more than 1,000 lawyers in 108. Various law firms.

At the time, Reuters reported that the people who became targets of hacking while involved in at least seven different lawsuits, each launched their own investigations into the cyber espionage campaign.

This number has grown since then.

Azima, Suleiman’s former source, is among those who have been brought to court regarding the alleged hack. His lawyers, like Solomon, allege that Deckert worked with BellTroX, CyberRoot, and a large number of private investigators to steal his emails and post them to the web.

BellTroX and CyberRoot are not parties to the lawsuit and are not immediately accessible. Executives at both companies have denied any wrongdoing in the past.

Suleiman and Azima claim that Deckert conducted the hacking and leaking operation on behalf of his client, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the ruler of the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah in the Middle East. Reuters reported that lawyers for the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Agency – RAKIA – used the emails to help win a fraud lawsuit filed against Azima in London in 2016.

Azimah, who denies RAKIA’s allegations of fraud, tries to overturn the ruling.

In addition to being published in court, the leaked emails also reached the Associated Press, which published two articles on Azima in June 2017, including one revealing that the airline mogul had offered journalist Suleiman a minority stake in a company he worked for. Preparation. The magazine fired Solomon shortly before the AP story was published, citing ethical violations.

Solomon says he never took Azima at his suggestion or profited financially from their relationship. In a personal account of the scandal published in the Columbia Journalism Review in 2018, the former journalist said he never held back Azima’s talk about job opportunities because he was trying to humor a man who was crucial to his coverage of the Middle East. Suleiman acknowledged that there were “serious mistakes in managing my source relationship with Azima” but said he was the target of an “incredibly effective” media operation.

The newspaper, which is not a party to the lawsuit, declined to comment. The Associated Press did not immediately send a message.

Suleiman received several awards for his work as a foreign correspondent before his dismissal. He declined to make an official comment on the lawsuit, but in his 2018 account he described the episode as a warning to reporters.

“Leaks and hacking of emails and correspondence can blow up complex reports and disrupt months, if not years, of work,” he said.

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Raphael Satter reports. Editing by David Gregorio

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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