Solomon v. Dechert LLP

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA JONATHAN SOLOMON, Plaintiff, v. Civil Action No. 22-3137 (JEB) DECHERT LLP, et al., Defendants. MEMORANDUM OPINION Jonathan “Jay” Solomon, former chief foreign-affairs correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, was no stranger to having his name appear in the news, although he was more accustomed to showing up in the byline than in the headlines. That all changed in June 2017, when a story broke accusing him of maintaining an improper business relationship with one of his sources, prompting the Journal to fire him. Plaintiff has brought this suit against multiple individuals and businesses allegedly responsible for leaking his communications with that source. He claims that Defendants embarked on a campaign to discredit and silence him and are thus liable under a number of statutes, including the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Now that certain Defendants — including a prominent law firm — have been dismissed, those remaining are two groups of alleged hackers and one communications consulting firm and its employees. They now separately move to dismiss all of Solomon’s claims. As the Court agrees that the Amended Complaint does not adequately allege the elements of his federal causes of action, it will dismiss those counts and decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his state-law claims. 1 I. Background At this stage, the Court sets forth the facts as pled in the Complaint, assuming them to be true. See Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000). They read in certain parts like a mashup of elements from international TV thrillers “The Bureau” and “Tehran.” Solomon was the chief foreign-affairs correspondent for the Journal’s Washington, D.C., bureau for nearly two decades, where he “covered national security and U.S. foreign policy.” ECF No. 47 (Am. Compl.), ¶ 11. Though a resident of the District, Solomon had postings in the Middle East and various regions of Asia. Id. In 2013, he “broke news on a money laundering scheme designed to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions.” Id., ¶¶ 11, 34. His reporting was based on two types of sources. The first was a series of briefings by “American and Israeli intelligence officials,” from whom Solomon learned that Iran was attempting to circumvent American sanctions and launder money by having “three moneymen for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (‘IRGC’)” purchase various businesses within the Republic of Georgia. Id., ¶ 33. One of these transactions, and the one most critical to this case, involved a Georgian hotel sold to these moneymen by Sheikh Saud, the ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven United Arab Emirates. Id. Solomon’s other source was Farhad Azima, an international businessman, whom Plaintiff describes as “critical” to his reporting. Id., ¶¶ 33, 37. Azima helped broker some of the above-mentioned transactions and “at the time was on good terms with Sheikh Saud.” Id., ¶ 33. Following the publication of Plaintiff’s story, the Georgian government took swift action …

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