Man claims journalist defamed him in investigative article about wife's death, lawsuit seeks $10M

By John Suayan | Nov 18, 2018

HOUSTON – A Texas man, claiming he was defamed in a 2016 news article about an investigation into the deaths of his wife and her sister, seeks $10 million.

Waleed Albanawi is suing Herman R. Ortega III in Harris County 165th District Court. The suit, which was filed on Nov. 12, alleges that Ortega “published false statements of fact” about Albanawi in a Dec. 9, 2016, article titled “The Continuing Investigation of Suspicious Deaths of Prominent American/Jordanian Sisters Soraya and Jumana Salti: The Husband Theory.”

According to the Arab News, the siblings were found dead in 2015 in suspicious circumstances in a building to the south of the Jordanian capital, Amman. Authorities declared their deaths a double suicide.

Soraya Salti was a businesswoman and an advocate for education reform throughout the Middle East.

Albanawi, who was married to Soraya Salti, accused Ortega of falsely tagging him as an informant and deeming him responsible for the sisters’ deaths, “even after the police investigated the matter and found no evidence that Albanawi was involved in these deaths.”

The plaintiff asserts that the article has caused him to lose a “significant” amount of business and suffer a bad reputation.

Consequently, he seeks $10 million in damages and a jury trial.

Omar J. Fahel of the law firm Khoury Fahel Naim LLP in Houston is representing the complainant.

Harris County 165th District Court Case No. 2018-81410

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