Terrorist Salah Hamuri, who was convicted of planning to assassinate Rav Ovadia Yosef but was freed in the Shalit deal, has sued Reuters and Arutz Sheva over what he says was an interview that "besmirched his name and portrayed him in an unfavorable light."
According to ICE, a site that specializes in Israeli media, Hamouri was arrested in 2005 on suspicion that he had planned to assassinate the former Chief Sephardic Rabbi and Shas's spiritual leader. In 2009 he was convicted and sentenced to seven years in jail. On December 18, 2011, Hamouri – who has French citizenship – was included in the Shalit deal after the French government interceded on his part.
A day after his release he was interviewed on Reuters by reporter Jihan Abdullah. On December 20, the interview was published and he was quoted as saying "I and my two friends were right to try and eliminate Rav Ovadia Yosef," and that the rabbi "deserves to die."
The statements were quoted in numerous press outlets worldwide, including Israeli ones like Besheva, Arutz Sheva and Ynet.
As a result, the French ambassador to Israel contacted Hamouri and demanded that he apologize for his statement. Hamouri refused and said the quotes were false, and that he possesses a recording of the interview. The French ambassador asked Reuters to correct the report and it did so, removing the statement that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef "deserves to die."
Some outlets, including Ynet and Walla, published the corrected report, but no such correction appeared in Arutz Sheva.
Following the initial publication of the interview, Hamouri filed a lawsuit against Reuters and Arutz Sheva, through Attorney Husam Yunes. "Following the initial publication," the lawsuit says, "very harsh responses were received, and some of the responses included threats against the life of the plaintiff, who now fears for his life and fears being hurt by people who were incited to hurt him following the publication of things that he never said…"
The lawsuit claims that the publication constituted libel, and came close to being a racist hate crime. Yunes demands 900,000 shekels compensation for his client, 300,000 of them for "dissemination of libel and damage to the plaintiff's good name in the eyes of the world's populace," and 500,000 shekels for "pain, suffering and sadness, psychological damage and anxiety."
Uzi Baruch, Editor-in-Chief of Arutz Sheva, declined to respond. Reuters also did not respond.