NewsMillions fine for US conspiracy theorists

    Millions fine for US conspiracy theorists

    Already on Thursday, the ultra-right US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was sentenced to more than four million US dollars in damages – now there was an even higher penalty. He was sentenced to a further $45.2 million in damages for false allegations about a school massacre in the United States. The sentence was imposed by a grand jury in Austin, Texas.

    In the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, the perpetrator shot 20 children and six adults before taking his own life. Conspiracy theorist Jones then repeatedly claimed that the attack never happened. Rather, it was faked in order to enforce a tightening of gun laws. Jones has been sued by a number of parents for these allegations and has now been sentenced twice for damages in the Austin civil suit.

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    Punitive damages as a deterrent

    On Thursday, the 48-year-old was sentenced to pay $4.1 million in damages to the parents of a boy killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School bloodbath. The parents had described the emotional suffering Jones had caused by lying. They demanded $150 million in compensation. The conspiracy theorist’s attorney argued the plaintiffs had failed to prove his client’s words actually caused harm.

    The second judgment on Friday, with a penalty of more than $45 million, is the so-called punitive damages. This is also intended as a deterrent and is often significantly higher than the actual compensation.

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    Influence in right-wing circles

    The radio presenter and founder of the right-wing website “Infowars” is very influential in right-wing circles. Jones made a lot of money spreading conspiracy theories. For example, he had claimed that the US government was involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York.

    Jones has a large following and is known as a supporter of former US President Donald Trump. Jones, for example, appropriated Trump’s false claim that his election loss to current President Joe Biden was the result of massive fraud. Jones was also in Washington when radical Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. He was questioned behind closed doors by the parliamentary inquiry into the storming of the Capitol.

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    “Infowars” had already filed for bankruptcy in April. Another of Jones’ companies, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy last week.

    AR/ack (afp, dpa)

    Source: DW

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