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Sharpton Sues AOL Time Warner Over FBI Tape

July 25, 2002|Bloomberg News

The Rev. Al Sharpton filed a $1-billion defamation lawsuit against AOL Time Warner Inc. over a Home Box Office cable television network show that aired FBI surveillance tapes of Sharpton discussing a drug deal.

Sharpton said in the lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court in Lower Manhattan that Tuesday's broadcast of "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" featuring a segment on corruption in sports failed to show portions of the 1983 tapes in which Sharpton allegedly rejects the drug deal. "I will not bend or buckle or bow to a smear campaign," Sharpton said.

The tape was made as part of a U.S. investigation of boxing promoter Don King's possible ties to organized crime. It shows an undercover agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, posing as a South American drug dealer, asking Sharpton whether he wants to take part in cocaine trafficking.

Sharpton, a civil rights activist, discussed the drug deal for several minutes, according to the tape shown by HBO.

"The lawsuit is so silly that it is unworthy of comment," said HBO spokesman Ray Stallone.

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