Chinese lawyers take CNN, commentator to court

Updated: 2008-04-23 14:58

Watch video: The April 19 protest at LA CNN office

BEIJING -- Fourteen Chinese lawyers have filed a lawsuit with the Chaoyang Court in Beijing against CNN and commentator Jack Cafferty, charging harm to their reputations from Cafferty's comments.

The plaintiffs, from Beijing Huanzhong & Partners, a Beijing-based law firm, demanded in the suit filed on Monday that CNN and Cafferty cease what they termed harmful acts, issue a public apology and pay each of them 100 yuan (US$14.30) in compensation for mental distress.

It is not immediately known if or when the court will accept the case.

During an appearance on "The Situation Room," a program that aired on April 9, Cafferty said while speaking about the US trade deficit with China:

"We continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food and export, you know, jobs to places where you can pay workers a dollar a month to turn out the stuff that we're buying from Wal-Mart.

"So I think our relationship with China has certainly changed," he said,"I think they're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years."

CNN issued a statement early last week in which it said, in part, that Cafferty had made critical comments about many governments, including the United States.

"On this occasion Jack was offering his strongly held opinion of the Chinese government, not the Chinese people," said CNN in the statement.

Liu Jing, one of the plaintiffs, said the statement lacked sincerity and would never be treated as an apology. She said the remarks made by Cafferty gravely infringed upon and trampled her reputation and dignity as a Chinese and had caused severe spiritual and psychological harm.

She said that Cafferty's remarks violated the Chinese Constitution and the General Principles of the Civil Law, which state that human dignity should not be infringed upon.

"Cafferty has also violated Principle VI and Principle VII of UNESCO's International Principles of Professional Ethics in Journalism, as well as the Code of Ethics adopted by the Society of Professional Journalists of the United States," she said.

Liu also accused CNN of having erred in failing to determine the real situation related to its programs and failing to censor or restrain what she called biased news reporting, which had damaged the reputation of the plaintiffs.

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