American millionaires are trying to “silence it up”

A Quebec journalist who wrote a critical piece on financing an electric car company will have to defend himself in the Supreme Court

Posted at 5:00 am

Nicholas Pérob

Nicholas Pérob

An American businessman is suing in the Quebec Superior Court, a Quebec journalist who heads the most-read electric car news site on the planet, after he wrote an article criticizing his company’s fundraising campaign.

Fred Lambert, editor of Electrek, a site with 10 million readers a month, published an article on July 6 detailing Stephen Salin and his company Saleen Automotive’s attempts to raise money while the fundraising campaign ended poorly for the company’s shareholders in the past.

“After writing his article, my client received an injunction request and a contempt of court in connection with an injunction received several years ago,” explains Mr.e Neil A. Biden, Spiegel Sommer’s attorney, representing Fred Lambert. Of course, it makes the role of a journalist difficult if a court order prevents you from speaking about someone. »

In Longueuil County Superior Court, Stephen Saline and Saleen Automotive charged Fred Lambert with violating the terms of an injunction adopted in 2015 following a series of online posts by Mr. Lambert relating to the company’s fundraising efforts at the time.

Already Fred Lambert noticed in 2014 that Saleen Automotive, a California car modification company founded by former racing driver Stephen Salen, was making ads he described as “questionable.”

For example, Saleen Automotive was bragging about partnering with Tesla, but I reached out to Tesla, and they said they don’t know these people.

Fred Lambert, Editor Electrek

At the time, Mr. Lambert was not yet a journalist and made several posts on the Investors Hub and on the Reddit forum in order to alert the growing community of people interested in electric cars. He received a request for an injunction from Stephen Saline ordering him to withdraw these tickets.

“I was 23 and I had no money,” says Fred Lambert. All the lawyers I called told me I would need at least $30,000 to defend myself. They suggested that I accept the injunction and go ahead, which I did. »

Longueuil محكمة Court

In the years since, Saleen Automotive’s stock has plummeted in value. “The stock went from 90 cents to a fraction of a cent,” Lambert says. As I was afraid, small investors lost their money. »

After realizing this summer that Saleen Automotive had just launched a fundraiser to sell modified Teslas, Fred Lambert looked again at the topic.

The company is looking to raise $20 million, with a minimum investment of $500 per investor, he notes. The same scenario is repeating itself, the same people are involved. »

Saleen Automotive says in its promotional materials that this is the first time it has offered the public the opportunity to become a shareholder in the company.

They try to pretend that what happened in the markets never happened.

Fred Lambert, Editor Electrek

Journalism Offered an opportunity to respond to attorneys representing Stephen Saleen and his company Saleen Automotive, but they did not respond.

Stephen Saline is now asking a court in Longueuil to find Fred Lambert in contempt for writing on the topic this summer, and is asking the court to impose a second injunction that would permanently stop him from alluding to his work or to his associates.

Me Biden, Fred Lambert’s attorney, notes that the orders that were imposed several years ago were never reviewed.

“It is extraordinary that we can enforce such restraining orders without anyone objecting. We do not have here a case of gross libel, without aim, where we have made gratuitous remarks. Right or wrong, my client did some research before he said what he was going to say. It is journalistic work.”

Fred Lambert points out that his goal is not to challenge in court, but to spread information that deserves to be known.

But there, we have millionaires in the United States who are using the Quebec justice system to try to silence and intimidate me financially. I do not believe that it is the will of the Court to seek to prevent the publication of information of public interest value. »

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