- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 11, 2017

A federal judge has ruled against letting attorneys for Muslim American radio host Dean Obeidallah question the relatives of an elusive Ohio native who wrote an article falsely labeling him an Islamic State “terrorist.”

Attorneys for Mr. Obeidallah filed a defamation suit in August against the author of the article, Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin, but have failed so far to find an actual address letting them physically serve him the suit, effectively halting their efforts to take him into court.

Mr. Obeidallah’s lawyers filed a motion last month seeking permission to question Mr. Anglin’s relatives and other targets in hopes of ascertaining his whereabouts, but Magistrate Judge Elizabeth P. Deavers rejected the request in an 8-page ruling issued Thursday in Columbus federal court.

“Although recognizing Defendants’ apparent attempts to conceal his whereabouts and evade service, the Court cannot, at this juncture, authorize the broad requests for expedited discovery Plaintiff seeks,” the judge wrote.

Mr. Anglin, 32, launched The Daily Stormer in 2013. The site posts crude, typically racist commentary on current events, and has been labeled a neo-Nazi site by critics including the Southern Poverty Law Center, a watchdog that monitors hate groups and other extremists. The site routinely publishes bigoted, xenophobic and hateful articles attributed to Mr. Anglin and other contributors, though its publisher has called both his persona and website a “performance art project.”

In June, Mr. Anglin published an article that falsely claimed Mr. Obeidallah was a member of the Islamic State terror group who “masterminded” a bombing this past May in Manchester, England.

Mr. Obeidallah filed a lawsuit over the article on Aug. 16, but federal rules require the court to dismiss the case if the defendant isn’t served within 90 days after the complaint being filed unless the plaintiff demonstrates “good cause” for the failure.

Mr. Obeidallah’s attorneys hired private investigators who located five possible addresses for Mr. Anglin but were unable to find him, according to court filings. With the 90-day deadline looming, they asked last month for permission to subpoena Mr. Anglin’s relatives as well as the U.S. Postal Service and unspecified internet companies potentially aware of his physical location.

“The Court acknowledges that locating Defendants has proven both challenging and frustrating. Yet, the Court is not persuaded that the present record establishes the good cause necessary to warrant the breadth of expedited discovery Plaintiff seeks and that he has exhausted all his efforts in this regard,” the judge ruled Thursday.

“Plaintiff seeks to subpoena and depose Greg Anglin and Mitchell Anglin, but he has not shown that the need for such discovery, in consideration of the administration of justice, outweighs the prejudice to these individual third parties, particularly where the record reflects that Plaintiff has not exhausted his attempts locate and serve Defendant Anglin,” she ruled Thursday.

The judge asked Mr. Obeidallah’s attorney to narrow the scope of the request and extended the window needed to serve Mr. Anglin until February 12, 2018.

Neither Mr. Anglin nor attorneys for Mr. Obeidallah immediately responded to requests for comment on the ruling.

The Daily Stormer achieved notoriety in August after Mr. Anglin published an article mocking Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal killed while protesting white supremacists at a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The site was subsequently banned by internet companies including GoDaddy, Google and Cloudflare, among others, and is currently only accessible on the dark web – an unindexed portion of the internet accessed with specialized software.

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