Blockchain Startup Founder Awarded $3M in Defamation Suit

News | May 3, 2023 By:

Emin Gün Sirer, the founder and CEO of blockchain startup Ava Labs, has won a $3 million defamation lawsuit against a crypto influencer.

The lawsuit, filed in Florida Southern District Court by Sirer in June 2021, accused cryptocurrency analyst Emre Aksoy of falsely claiming on his Youtube channel that Sirer is a member of the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which has been designated as a terrorist organization by numerous nations, including Turkey.

“In February 2021, in an effort to cause reputational harm to Sirer and Ava Labs, Aksoy claimed that Sirer was a member of the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (“FETO”),” the lawsuit said.

Sirer, who founded Avalanche’s Ava Labs in 2018, said that Aksoy knew the statements were untrue and that they could harm his reputation, and endanger his family.

“Aksoy was aware, when he published his February 2021 YouTube video, that his statements concerning Sirer’s affiliation with FETO were false. Nonetheless, Aksoy proceeded to publish the false and defamatory statements knowing that they would cause substantial harm to Sirer,” the lawsuit said. “Aksoy made these defamatory remarks as part of a gross scheme to depress the price of AVAX in favor of the other crypto-assets he promotes. Indeed, on February 13, 2021, just days after he published the defamatory statements to his YouTube channel, Aksoy told his Twitter followers to “short $AVAX.”

According to a Law360 report, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom issued an order on April 28, 2023, stating that Sirer is entitled to $750,000 in general damages for reputational harm. Sirer was also awarded $300,000 in “special damages for his increased security costs” and $2 million in punitive damages to “deter the kind of malicious behavior perpetrated by the defendant.”

Judge Bloom said that Sirer’s prior testimony “adequately shows he suffered considerable reputational harm, among other things.”

“[The] Plaintiff experienced anxiety and fear during his frequent trips to Turkey because of his justified concern that he would be arrested and detained by the Turkish authorities upon entry as a result of the defendant’s allegations that he was a member of FETÖ,” Judge Bloom wrote.


Source: Law360