Judge tosses lawsuit over anthrax articles

Jan. 13, 2007 at 5:12 PM
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ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 13 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Virginia Friday dismissed a suit against The New York Times by a scientist who said he was defamed in a 2001 series on anthrax attacks.

The Times said Saturday that U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton in Alexandria granted a motion to dismiss the suit in which biological weapons expert Stephen Hatfill accused columnist Nicholas Kristof of defaming him in a series of columns about anthrax being sent through the mail.

Kristof's columns said that a "Mr. Z" was the "overwhelming focus of the investigation." Kristof would later report that Hatfill, a former scientist at the Army bio-weapons center at Fort Detrick, Md., had actually identified himself as "Mr. Z" and had told Kristof that he was being treated unfairly by the media.

Five people died in the anthrax attacks; no one has ever been charged with a crime associated with the mailings and Hatfill was only called a "person of interest" by investigators.

The legal basis for the dismissal did not accompany the opinion; however, the judge is expected to file a detailed written opinion in the near future.

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