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Ex-senator's Internet libel suit can continue

By The Associated Press
03.22.04

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit filed by former U.S. Sen. James Abourezk can continue against an Internet site that put Abourezk on a "traitor's list" for criticizing President Bush.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol denied a motion on March 17 from ProBush.com to dismiss Abourezk's lawsuit. Abourezk, who was a Democratic U.S. senator from 1973 to 1979, accused the site of libel.

Abourezk sued last year after his name and photograph showed up on the list along with those of several others, including actress Susan Sarandon, Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Abourezk, who is seeking $2 million in actual damages, $3 million in punitive damages and a retraction, has been critical of the war in Iraq. He also was part of a four-person delegation that traveled to Syria and Iraq in 2002.

In an interview last May, Abourezk's lawyer, Todd Epp, said the Web site could criticize the former senator's views, but did not have the right to call him a traitor to his country.

ProBush.com said in court documents that the First Amendment protects political statements such as those that appear on the Web site.


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