WSJ fires top journalist over ethical conflict

2017-06-22 08:34
A 2014 photo of Jay Solomon. (AP File)

A 2014 photo of Jay Solomon. (AP File)

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Washington - The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday fired its highly regarded chief foreign affairs correspondent after evidence emerged of his involvement in prospective commercial deals - including one involving arms sales to foreign governments - with an international businessman who was one of his key sources.

The reporter, Jay Solomon, was offered a 10% stake in a fledgling company, Denx LLC, by Farhad Azima, an Iranian-born aviation magnate who has ferried weapons for the CIA. It was not clear whether Solomon ever received money or formally accepted a stake in the company.

"We are dismayed by the actions and poor judgement of Jay Solomon," Wall Street Journal spokesperson Steve Severinghaus wrote in a statement to The Associated Press. "While our own investigation continues, we have concluded that Mr Solomon violated his ethical obligations as a reporter, as well as our standards."

Azima was the subject of an AP investigative article published on Tuesday. During the course of its investigation, the AP obtained emails and text messages between Azima and Solomon, as well as an operating agreement for Denx dated March 2015, which listed an apparent stake for Solomon.

As part of its reporting, the AP had asked the Journal about the documents appearing to link Solomon and Azima. The relationship was uncovered in interviews and in internal documents that Azima's lawyer said were stolen by hackers.

"I clearly made mistakes in my reporting and entered into a world I didn't understand." Solomon told the AP on Wednesday.

"I never entered into any business with Farhad Azima, nor did I ever intend to. But I understand why the emails and the conversations I had with Mr Azima may look like I was involved in some seriously troubling activities. I apologise to my bosses and colleagues at the Journal, who were nothing but great to me."

The emails and texts reviewed by the AP - tens of thousands of pages covering more than eight years - included more than 18 months of communications involving the apparent business effort. Some messages described a need for Solomon's Social Security number to file the company's taxes, but there was no evidence Solomon provided it.

Denx was shuttered last year, according to Florida business registration records.

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