CNN Parent Company Sued for $50M by Chinese Billionaire Claiming Defamation

Guo Wengui says a July 23 episode of 'Erin Burnett OutFront' unfairly painted him in a negative light.
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
Guo Wengui

A Chinese billionaire and Mar-a-Lago member is suing WarnerMedia over a CNN segment that he claims falsely implies he committed espionage and was on the verge of being deported.

Guo Wengui, who is known as Miles Kwok in the U.S., on Friday filed a $50 million lawsuit against WarnerMedia and CNN anchor Erin Burnett for defamation. According to the complaint, Guo is an "outspoken and vitriolic critic" of the Chinese Communist Party who is seeking asylum in the U.S. because his public statements about the Chinese government led to the arrest of his family members and the freezing of his assets.

Since he fled in 2014, Guo claims the Chinese government has gone to "extensive lengths" to have him extradited, including asking CEOs of large companies and venture capitalist Elliott Broidy to put pressure on President Donald Trump. He maintains the Chinese government is actively working to discredit him and he has sued multiple people for defamation alleging they falsely labeled him a spy, a fraud, a swindler and a rapist.

Guo is now claiming that he was defamed when Burnett began a July 23 CNN segment by teasing "New tonight, the Chinese billionaire and member of Mar-a-Lago accused of being a spy."

"Clearly, the intent was to garner views for the sensational 'story' with no regard for the truth and less investigation into the underlying facts," writes attorney Aaron Mitchell in the complaint. "The CNN broadcast went on to make a number of false statements, along with various other statements intended to mislead its viewers and cast Plaintiff in a negative light."

He also takes issue with statements made by Burnett's guest, Miami Herald reporter Sarah Blaskey, in connection with another New York legal fight. She said "a company that he partnered with in the past" accused him in court documents of "trying to gather intel for the Chinese government" and went on to say that "it's unclear if federal authorities are acting on that information."

Guo says that company is Strategic Vision and its claims were dismissed because he never partnered with them, and Blaskey's follow-up statement implies he had "done something illegal that 'federal authorities' should 'act on.'"

"To further embellish their story, Defendants made statements that insinuated that Mr. Guo was associated with the woman arrested sneaking into Mar-a-Lago with malware and Cindy Yang who has been accused of selling access to Mar-a-Lago and President Trump," writes Mitchell. "Even a modicum of due diligence would have shown the falsity of these statements."

In addition to $50 million in damages, Guo wants WarnerMedia to remove the story from any online publication and run a retraction on the front page of CNN's website and in physical publications.