Yogurt maker Chobani has filed a lawsuit against radio-host and internet personality Alex Jones. The suit was filed on Monday in a district court in Twin Falls County, Idaho, and named Jones and the media companies InfoWars, and Free Speech Systems, as defendants. The complaint contends that Infowars released a video describing Chobani’s practice of hiring refugees at his plant in the area, as well as an unrelated sexual assault case that occurred in Twin Falls, Idaho.
A reporter for Infowars republished in the video statements that claimed the Chobani processing plant brought not only crime, but also tuberculosis to the Twin Falls area when the plant was inaugurated five years ago. Twin Falls is one of two cities in Idaho with a refugee resettlement center.
The video was headlined "Idaho Yogurt Maker Caught Important Migrant Rapists," even though, as the lawsuit points out, Infowars did not mention nor prove the veracity of that headline in its report. Jones and other media outlets tweeted the story.
The April 11 Infowars report noted Turkish immigrant and Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya's practice of hiring refugees. The report added that three Twin Falls Muslim refugee boys admitted to assault charges following an incident involving a 5-year-old girl at an apartment complex in Twin Falls. News of the sexual assault caused outrage and months of rancour in Idaho, causing tensions over the influx of refugees being brought into the state. The lawsuit claims, "The defendants defamatory statements were designed to cause — and did in fact cause — customers to call for a boycott of Chobani's products." Lawyers for Chobani are asking for at least $10,000 in damages.
Jones and his companies had declined to remove the reports or publish a retraction.
The lawsuit claims that Jones and his companies acted with “actual malice” to harm the reputation of the yogurt maker. Lawyers for Chobani want a jury trial, while the actual amount of “substantial damages” Chobani has allegedly suffered will be provided at a trial.
Chobani filed the lawsuit in Idaho District Court in Twin Falls, which is home to the largest yogurt-processing facility in the world. Chobani’s lawyers wrote, "(Jones) is no stranger to spurious statements. He has claimed that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks and the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut." They added, "Mr. Jones has now taken aim at Chobani and the Twin Falls community." Twin Falls lies about 25 miles south of Boise and has a population of approximately 46,5000.
The suit, filed on Monday in district court in Twin Falls County, Idaho, named Mr. Jones and the media companies InfoWars and Free Speech Systems as defendants. It called “false” and “defamatory” several reports that appeared on InfoWars alleging that the company’s factory in Idaho, which employs refugees, was connected to a 2016 child sexual assault and a rise in tuberculosis cases.
Appearing in a video on Tuesday, Jones said that he would “fight” the Chobani lawsuit. He said that Infowars’ reporting on the Twin Falls assault case and tuberculosis rates came from material that “has been all over mainstream news.” “We will defeat these people,” Jones said. “This is my fight, this is your fight, this is our fight against a bunch of authoritarian, globalist, third-world populations allied with the global elite, who are totally cold blooded.” He noted Ulukaya's relationships with Bill Clinton and George Soros. Jones also said that Chobani could possibly demand payment of as much as $100 million.
On his video, Jones said, “I just want to point this out: suing us for reporting on other people’s reports is a way to politically target us,” Alex Jones said in response to the lawsuit. “…But I’m not scared of this because I know that all we reported on was already in the news.” In a report about the lawsuit, an article on the Infowars website stated:
"To sum it up, the Syrian refugees were brought into the town where the yogurt factory is located after Ulukaya pushed for refugee resettlement, and after three of them raped a little girl – which the mainstream media and political insiders claimed was a hoax until they pleaded guilty – Ulukaya and Chobani filed a lawsuit against Alex Jones and Infowars for reporting on the story."
Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs told the New York Times that the 2016 sexual assault case was not related to Chobani. The sexual assault of the 5-year-old girl occurred on June 2, 2016, at a Twin Falls apartment building. Three boys, ages 7, 10 and 14, attacked the girl. Two of them are Eritrean refugees, while one is Iraqi. They have pleaded guilty to charges that include sexual exploitation of a child and misdemeanor battery. Loebs said that no one was charged with rape because no rape occurred. He also said that there was no gang rape or knifing.
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