Scott Stedman | Walter Soriano vs. Forensic News | YouTube/Forensic News
Lawsuit brought against Forensic News and Scott Stedman deemed a SLAPP


18 February 2022

No Comments

The undersigned organisations express their serious concern at the legal proceedings that have been brought against investigative journalist Scott Stedman, his U.S. media company Forensic News, and three of his colleagues.


Between June 2019 and June 2020, Forensic News published six articles and a podcast about the business affairs of British-Israeli security consultant and businessman Walter Soriano, after he was summoned by the United States’ Senate Intelligence Committee. The Committee was reportedly interested in Soriano’s connections to several people of interest, including the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who had been a former business associate of Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Forensic News team was sued by Soriano in July 2020, one month after they published their last article about him. Although the defendants are all based in the United States and Forensic News is incorporated in the state of California, the lawsuit has been brought in London.


“Libel, misuse of private information, harassment, and malicious falsehoods”

A total of five claims were made in relation to data protection, libel, misuse of private information, harassment, and malicious falsehoods. Two of the claims, harassment and malicious falsehoods, have since been dismissed.


“We believe that the lawsuit that has been brought against Forensic News is a SLAPP,” the undersigned organisations said. SLAPPs abuse the law in order to silence critical coverage on matters of public interest. Index on Censorship has filed a media freedom alert to the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists.


“The hallmarks of a SLAPP”

“The case has many of the hallmarks of a SLAPP, including that Soriano is not only suing the news organisation, but also the four individual reporters. He also has lawsuits pending against investigative journalists in France and Israel, as well as against Twitter in Ireland,” the organisations said.


Due to the extremely expensive nature of mounting a legal defence in England and Wales, Forensic News is having to raise funds through an online crowdfunding campaign. The case is expected to go to trial before the end of 2022.


Index on Censorship

Blueprint for Free Speech

The Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS)

Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ)

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation

English PEN

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)


International Press Institute (IPI)

Justice for Journalists Foundation

Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)

PEN International

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Spotlight on Corruption

Read news by categories:

Related news


Cyprus: Call for thorough investigations into surveillance of Makarios Drousiotis

We are highly concerned about the alleged surveillance of journalist Makarios Drousiotis, and the lack of prompt, adequate or thorough investigation of the matter.


Greece: International press freedom mission to Athens

Between 25 and 27 September 2023, eight international press freedom and freedom of expression organisations will conduct a joint advocacy and fact-finding mission to Athens.


Public Letter on the role of the European Board for Media Services

We call on the European Parliament to strengthen the EMFA’s state advertising provisions and by doing so, ensure that media freedom can flourish in the European Union.

Press release

Polish media grapple with unprecedented challenges and uncertain future as the country faces electoral crossroads

At the conclusion of their press freedom mission to Warsaw from 11-13 September, partner organisations of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) declared that the media and journalists in Poland are facing unprecedented challenges including legal threats, financial precarity, political pressure, regulatory capture and growing polarisation.


Government of Malta must publish Committee of Experts on Media report

We call on the government of Malta to publish without further delay the report by the Committee of Experts on Media, the body tasked with advising the Government on implementing the recommendations of the Public Inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.


Ukraine: Call for an End to Russian War Crimes Against Journalists in Ukraine

We, the undersigned journalists, press freedom organizations, and unions, write this statement to denounce the war crimes committed by the Russian Federation against journalists in Ukraine and to call for immediate action to hold the perpetrators accountable.