Right wing radio host and notorious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has made a number of bizarre and outrageously bigoted claims — including the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting being a hoax, 9/11 being an inside job carried out by the United States, and of course, Chobani yogurt company “importing” immigrant rapists into the country.
Since every falsity has its repercussions, the Greek yogurt maker has now filed a lawsuit against the conservative media personality and his infamous website, Infowars, for publishing news stories linking the company, which largely employs immigrants, to a sexual assault case in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Chobani, founded by Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish immigrant of Kurdish descent, operates the world’s largest yogurt plant in Twin Falls, providing ample job opportunities to the locals, particularly the refugee community. Ulukaya, a vocal supporter of immigrants, made headlines after awarding his full-time employees a 10 percent stake in the business, potentially making them millionaires.
However, last year, the company found itself on the receiving end of an elaborate far-right narrative after three boys, two of whom were refugees from Eritrea and one from Iraq, sexually assaulted a 5-year-old girl in a Twin Falls apartment complex.
Jones, an infamous Islamophobe and anti-immigration advocate, along with several other alt-right publications, took advantage of the situation and published a far-reaching story about Chobani importing rapists into the country, the girl being raped by a group of immigrant men and a knife being involved in the incident.
The police later found the girl was not raped, there was no knife, and the perpetrators were boys aged 14, 10, and 7. All three of them pleaded guilty to the crime.
However, since Jones does not particularly care about the truth but is only concerned about promoting his own xenophobic agenda, he posted multiple videos about how Ulukaya was bringing “crime and tuberculosis to the community” and how Twin Falls Mayor Shawn Barigar was colluding in a “mainstream media cover-up” to protect Chobani.
The baseless stories not only prompted a widespread customer boycott of the company, but also reportedly led to the mayor and his wife receiving death threats for their alleged participation in a supposed cover-up.
Chobani is now seeking at least $10,000 in damages and attorney fees.
In the lawsuit filed in Idaho District Court, the company claimed Jones and Infowars published “false statements, including the false accusations that Chobani was 'caught importing migrant rapists' and that Chobani's plant has brought 'crime and tuberculosis' to the Twin Falls community… The Defendants’ defamatory statements have caused and continue to cause harm to Idaho residents, including Chobani employees, their families, and other members of the Twin Falls community associated with Chobani.”
Chobani — which is the largest yogurt brand in the U.S. — also said the assault was in no way linked to its workforce.
“(Jones) is no stranger to spurious statements. He has claimed that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks and the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut,” Chobani's attorneys wrote. “Mr. Jones has now taken aim at Chobani and the Twin Falls community.”