We’ve taken great interest in Watson Meng’s Boxun blog that has made him China’s “Public Frenemy #1” and earned a spot among the Heroes in CLBR’s annual Heroes and Zeroes list.
The blog has triggered a defamation lawsuit from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha actress Zhang Ziyi (represented by Glaser, Weil, Fink, Jacobs & Shapiro, LLP). As counsel for Weng, Mark Randazza explains:
Plaintiff’s claims relate to articles published on the Boxun website stating that [a top Communist Party official’s] sexual escapades involved her – and that he lavished her with gifts, as did her other wealthy consorts. This story was widely reported, world-wide, but the Plaintiff only trained her legal daggers on dissident news services. This leads to the likely conclusion that this is less about the Plaintiff’s annoyance with the published articles and more about power, privilege, and Watson Meng as a gadfly for both inside China.
Randazza argues in his Motion for an Undertaking (to cover costs likely to be awarded following resolution of his anti-SLAPP Motion to Strike):
As salacious as the details are, the sexual issues are a side-show to the larger story – the story of corruption and scandal inside the Chinese Communist Party and the highest echelons of China’s business elite, and how the two work together. . . . [Consequently]the litigation seems to have a specifically focused mission: punishing Meng for exercising his right to free speech guaranteed by the United States Constitution, or flushing out the identity of Meng’s sources, presumably so that they would face a dissident’s fate in China.
Meng is the internet version of the famed “Tank Boy” from the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Hats off to Randazza and his team for standing with him as the legal tanks approach and to California for having the foresight to pass an anti-SLAPP to protect against these type of abuses. Randazza’s Motion is below.