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Mel Reynolds: I’ll sue journalists over porn arrest in Africa

Mel Reynolds speaks press conference Embassy Suites Hotel Wednesday just before noon.  | Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times

Mel Reynolds speaks at a press conference at Embassy Suites Hotel Wednesday just before noon. | Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times

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Updated: May 28, 2014 5:22PM



Former Congressman Mel Reynolds, D-Ill., said he would file lawsuits for slander and defamation against several reporters and news organizations over reports on his arrest in Zimbabwe on charges of pornography possession.

“Not one news organization verified the story,” he said. “The reason I know not a single news agency verified this story is because [the pornography] never existed. You can’t verify what doesn’t exist.”

In February, the Zimbabwean government had charged that Reynolds, 62, had pictures of naked men and women on his iPhone 4s. The pornography charges were dismissed, and Reynolds pleaded guilty to immigration violations.

But the former Congressman claimed Wednesday at a downtown Chicago news conference that Zimbabwe’s government really arrested him because he had information about corrupt dealings by government officials.

Reynolds claims he had overstayed his visa multiple times during his visits to Zimbabwe but believed it did not become a problem until the government feared he would come back to America and expose the truth about government corruption, including illegally taking government money from Americans.

Reynolds had another problem with the media, saying that his son was shot in the leg in Boston in January and that news organizations failed to report the story. Reynolds said he believes there is a double standard for him, claiming the press is only interested in the negative stories about him.

“If my son would have been arrested for bank robbery or if my son had been arrested for a sex crime or even arrested for having crack cocaine in his trunk, would the press have missed that?” he said. “Would that not have been reported? Would anyone care enough to report that story?”

The former Congressman did not state which news organizations or reporters he will sue.

Reynolds, 62, lost his congressional seat in 1995 after he was convicted of sexual misconduct.

“Just because a person doesn’t have a perfect background does not give the news media or anyone else to write anything without verification,” Reynolds said.”

When asked if he is going to continue with politics, Reynolds said his first concern is making sure his children are OK.

Reynolds said that he made his living as a consultant trying to connect American businesses with opportunities in Africa. But since his arrest, “that has all dried up.” Now, he said, he lives on “the largess of family and relatives,” and a friend picked up the tab for the hotel room where he held his press conference.

In February, he was arrested at a Harare hotel on pornography possession charges that were later dismissed because the judge ruled the police did not have a proper prosecution order.

But Reynolds did plead guilty to flouting the country’s immigration laws by staying longer than his visa permitted.

Ultimately he was deported to the U.S. after paying a $100 fine.

Contributing: Associated Press



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