Contacts: Judith Platt

Association of American Publishers

(202) 220-4551

Nanette Perez

Program Officer, ALA OIF

(312) 280-4225


For Immediate Release

June 10, 2008

ALA Conference Program examines libel tourism/terrorism and free speech

WASHINGTON - A program at the American Library Association (ALA) 2008 Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif., will take a long, hard look at the use of foreign libel laws as a weapon to intimidate and silence American journalists and authors.

The program, “The Biggest Threat to Free Speech You May Never Have Heard Of!” will be held from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Monday, June 30, in Room 204A at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Under the joint sponsorship of the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee and the Freedom to Read Committee of the Association of American Publishers, the program will feature Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, the New York-based author whose battle to have a British libel judgment against her declared unenforceable in the U.S. inspired New York’s newly enacted “Libel Terrorism Protection Act.” First Amendment attorney Jonathan Bloom (Weil Gotshal & Manges, LLP) will serve as moderator.

In 2004, soon after her book, “Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed—And How to Stop It,”was published in the United States, Dr. Ehrenfeld was sued in a British court by Khalid bin Mahfouz. That the book was never published in Great Britain, that a mere 23 copies were sold there via the Internet, that neither bin Mahfouz nor Dr. Ehrenfeld reside there and that she refused to participate in the proceedings did not stop a British judge from ruling against her by default, imposing substantial monetary damages and ordering a public apology and the destruction of all unsold copies of her book. She has refused to comply, and her fight inspired New York to pass a law prohibiting courts in the state from recognizing a foreign libel judgment that does not conform to our constitutional protections for free speech. Similar federal legislation is now pending in Congress.