Alex Jones must turn over internal Infowars documents to Sandy Hook families, judge rules
|Toronto Star 12 Jan 2019 at 16:50|
The families of victims in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School must receive access to internal documents at Infowars, the internet and radio show whose host, Alex Jones, has spread the false claim that the shooting was an elaborate hoax, a judge ruled Friday.
The ruling was a legal victory for the families, who in 2018 filed a defamation lawsuit against Jones, who traffics in conspiracy theories, and Infowars. The suit argued that peddling bogus stories was essential to the business model of Infowars, which sells products including survivalist gear, gun paraphernalia and dietary supplements.
Infowars founder Alex Jones attends a hearing on Capitol Hill Dec. 11, 2018 in Washington, D.C. A gunman killed 20 children and six adults in the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, just over six years ago, and Alex Jones has helped to spread the idea that grieving relatives of those victims were paid “crisis actors.” (Olivier Douliery / Abaca Press/ TNS)
A gunman killed 20 children and six adults in the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, just over six years ago, and Jones helped to spread the idea that grieving relatives of those victims were paid “crisis actors.”
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are relatives of five children and three adults who were killed, and one FBI agent who responded to the shooting. Their complaint said the families have faced “physical confrontation and harassment, death threats, and a sustained barrage of harassment and verbal assault on social media.”
“They have confronted strange individuals videotaping them and their children,” the suit said. “Some have moved to undisclosed locations to avoid this harassment.”
The complaint said Infowars profits by stoking paranoia to amass more followers, to whom it can sell more products.
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Judge Barbara Bellis of Connecticut Superior Court ruled that Jones would have to surrender documents — including letters, memos, emails and text messages — that concern the business plan or marketing strategies of Infowars, the shooting at Sandy Hook, crisis actors or mass shootings in general, according to the statement.
The parents of two other Sandy Hook victims are also suing Jones and Infowars in Texas, his home state. They are seeking similar information about his business.
According to a 2018 New York Times investigation, revenue for Infowars came primarily from the products Jones hawked during his broadcasts.
Marc Randazza, a lawyer for Jones, said Saturday the defense was considering appealing the judge’s decision.