Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy has hit a snag in his lawsuit against Jamal Benomar, a former United Nations diplomat accused of participating in a scheme to hack and leak the GOP operative’s emails to journalists, after the White House determined the latter is immune from litigation.
The Trump administration has agreed that Mr. Benomar, a Moroccan-born British citizen and former U.N. special envoy for Yemen through 2015, is entitled to diplomatic immunity, potentially bringing Mr. Broidy’s hacking lawsuit to a halt, NBC News reported Wednesday.
Filed in July in Manhattan federal court, the civil suit against Mr. Benomar is among several initiated on behalf of Mr. Broidy, the Republican National Committee’s former deputy finance chairman, concerning a suspected Qatari-sponsored scheme that resulted in his personal emails being stolen and shared with media outlets.
Mr. Benomar recently claimed that he has become a Moroccan diplomat assigned to the nation’s mission to the U.N. and thus immune from Mr. Broidy’s lawsuit alleging involving in the scheme.
A spokesman for Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said her office reviewed Morocco’s accreditation and certified him accordingly, NBC News reported.
“Based on this information, we have registered Benomar with diplomatic privileges and immunities,” Ms. Haley’s office, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said in a statement.
Lee Wolosky, an attorney and former ambassador representing Mr. Broidy in the case, disputed the Trump administration’s decision, NBC News reported.
“The record before the court, and not the statements of spokespeople, will determine how the court will rule,” said Mr. Wolosky, the former U.S. special envoy for the Closure of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.
“The record demonstrates that Mr. Benomar, who is alleged to have participated in a hacking conspiracy against a U.S. citizen, is not entitled to status immunity,” he told the outlet.
Mr. Broidy, 62, has alleged that hackers acting on behalf of the Qatar government breached his email account and leaked his personal correspondence to outlets in 2017, including The Associated Press and others.
Subsequent news reports revealed sensitive information ranging from how the former RNC fundraiser planned to leverage his access to President Trump, to his lobbying efforts aimed at imposing sanctions on the small Gulf nation, among other intimate details.
“The evidence is clear that a nation state is waging a sophisticated cyber information campaign against me in order to silence me,” he said previously. “I have been targeted because of my strong political views against Qatar’s state-sponsored terrorism and double dealing.”
“Benomar participated in the conspiracy to acquire and disseminate Plaintiffs’ trade secrets knowing or having reason to know that the trade secrets were acquired by improper means,” Mr. Broidy’s attorneys claimed in court documents.
“Mr. Broidy’s fallacious allegations are just a desperate attempt to divert attention away from a long list of his own legal and personal troubles,” said a spokesperson for Mr. Benomar.
A federal judge in California previously dismissed a similar claim against Qatar, citing sovereign immunity. Qatar has denied responsibility.
Mr. Broidy resigned from his RNC role in April after it emerged that he paid $1.6 million in hush money to a former Playboy model following a sexual relationship. The arrangement was negotiated by Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer.