MANHATTAN (CN) - Investigative journalist Steve Emerson claims in court that a director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations defamed him in a Tweet that said, "Steve Emerson is an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest child pornography case in US history."
Emerson sued Cyrus McGoldrick in Federal Court.
Emerson, the author of eight books on terrorism, jihadism and U.S. foreign policy, won the 1994 George Polk award for his TV documentary "Jihad in America." He is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism and has testified to congressional committees about al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
McGoldrick is the advocacy director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), according to Emerson's 7-page complaint.
The complaint states: "Although CAIR describes itself as a Muslim civil liberties advocacy organization, members of Congress, various law enforcement agencies and the FBI have described CAIR as participating in funneling millions of dollars to Hamas. An FBI agent has testified that CAIR is a front group for Hamas. Emerson and the Investigative Project on Terrorism have reported concerning these allegations relating to CAIR."
Emerson claims that McGoldrick defamed him in this Nov. 19 message posted on McGoldrick's Twitter account: "'Steve Emerson is an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest child pornography case in US history.' The statement was made in the context of a discussion he was having with two other individuals."
Emerson claims that McGoldrick has 1,099 followers on Twitter that day, and that the two people with whom he was having the discussion had 8,232 followers on Twitter.
"It is reasonable to assume that each of these approximately 9,331 followers had numerous followers themselves, and that this Tweet may have been seen by tens of thousands of people, in addition to the original conversation participants. The above referenced Twitter post is also available to search engines on the Internet and, therefore, has been published throughout the World Wide Web."
Emerson claims that McGoldrick maliciously posted the comment, knowing it was false and defamatory. "It was intended to discredit Emerson inasmuch as Emerson is a critic of McGoldrick and organizations with which he is associated. The Twitter post accuses Emerson of having committed a vile crime and constitutes libel per se."
CAIR is not a party to the complaint.
Emerson demands punitive damages of more than $1 million.
He is represented by Farnk Taddeo Jr.