- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - A powerful Venezuelan legislator has sued Dow Jones & Co. and News Corp., saying he was libeled in a drug investigation article in The Wall Street Journal.

Diosdado Cabello brought the lawsuit Thursday in Manhattan federal court a year after the newspaper published the story, which said U.S. officials were investigating Cabello and other members of the country’s socialist administration for allegedly trafficking cocaine and money laundering.

Cabello, who served as president of Venezuela’s National Assembly from January 2012 until January, has said he would never do anything to hurt the South American nation’s young people and he has challenged his accusers to prove it.

His lawsuit said the May 2015 article, titled “Venezuelan Officials Suspected of Turning Country into Global Cocaine Hub,” falsely alleged he was involved in drug trafficking-related activities. It cited the newspaper’s subtitle: “U.S. probe targets No. 2 official Diosdado Cabello, several others, on suspicion of drug trafficking and money laundering.”

Saying the article contained “false and defamatory allegations,” the lawsuit sought unspecified damages. It said Cabello suffered substantial harm to his reputation, along with economic damages.

Dow Jones, which owns the newspaper, said in a statement it was reviewing the lawsuit.

It added: “We have full confidence in the rigor and accuracy of our reporting. We will vigorously defend The Wall Street Journal against this lawsuit.”

The Journal’s story was published after other media outlets said that Cabello’s ex-bodyguard was cooperating with U.S. authorities and that he had claimed his former boss led a drug ring that included Venezuelan political and military officials.

The lawsuit said the article “spawned a tsunami of republications by various U.S. and international news outlets.”

It said Cabello was a devout husband and father of four who graduated from the country’s equivalent of West Point: the Bolivarian Military University of Venezuela. It said he was a distinguished politician, high ranking member of the military and a professional engineer who served as the nation’s interim president when he was vice president during a failed 2002 coup.

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