Hollywood Reporter Slapped with Defamation Suit over Sony Hack Story

Prometheus Global Media, parent company of The Hollywood Reporter, has been slapped with a defamation lawsuit filed by a freelance production accountant who claimed that her career and reputation has been damaged by an article that mentioned that she was involved in the cyberattack on Sony.

In the lawsuit filed by Nicole Basile on Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, mentioned the names the authors of the story, Gregg Kilday and Tatiana Siegel.

The suit claims that their story, “Sony Hack: Studio Security Points to Inside Job,” “falsely communicates, explicitly and by undisguised implication, that she was one of the hackers responsible for the infamous cyberattack on Sony.”

It was uploaded onto the THR website on or about Dec. 3, and was published in the magazine’s Dec. 12 issue. A Prometheus Global Media spokeswoman said that they do not comment on litigation.

A passage from the story quoted in the lawsuit says: “Now the question of who is behind the attack has become a chilling Hollywood whodunit. While the hackers have identified themselves only as Guardians of Peace, emails pointing journalists to allegedly stolen files posted on a site called Pastebin came from a sender named ‘Nicole Basile.” A woman by that name is credited on IMDb as an accountant on the studio’s 2012 hit film The Amazing Spider-Man, and her LinkedIn page says she worked at Sony for one year in 2011. Basile couldn’t be reached for comment and the studio declined to confirm if she works or has worked there.”

The story went on to quote that a security expert raising doubt on the idea that North Korea was the perpetrator notes the lawsuit. The FBI later in December recognized North Korea as responsible for the hack, even though in the weeks that filed some security experts persisted to question that conclusion.

Basile asserts that the article “falsely and damningly” sent out the message that she was the only person under whose name the hackers were sending emails, when journalists were getting emails under other aliases including author Michael Lewis and THR journalist Lesley Goldberg. She states in her lawsuit that THR singled her out and “intentionally lied to readers.”

She was employed by a production company that worked on “The Amazing Spider-Man” as a freelance accountant but she did not work for Sony and did not say that on her Linkedin account, as she points out in her lawsuit. “This is no semantic quibble,” her lawsuit states. “The article was intentionally crafted to point the finger at Ms. Basile as the insider responsible for the attack.” She also states that before the article was published, no “reasonable efforts” were made to get in touch with her.

She states that as a result of the article, the lost earnings she will have to bear will surpass $1.4 million, and also has been unable to get a single job offer that corresponds with her experience. After the article was published, she also asserts that she experienced abdominal pains that were “so severe that her doctors suspected she had a serious internal problem, and performed surgery.”

The lawsuit claims false light and defamation.

She is represented by Rodney Smolla, Alexander Rufus-Isaacs, and Ian Benson.

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