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Atlanta poll workers settle defamation suit against One America


(Reuters) – Two Georgia election workers who were the target of vote-rigging conspiracy theories have reached a settlement agreement with the far-right One America News Network in their defamation lawsuit against the outlet, according to court papers filed on Thursday.

Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, a voter registration officer in Fulton County, and Ruby Freeman, Moss' mother and a temp worker for the 2020 election, sued OAN officials along with former U.S. President Donald Trump's ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani for allegedly spreading lies about them in their efforts to overturn Mr. Trump's election loss.

The agreement announced on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington will result in Ms. Moss and Ms. Freeman's asking Chief Judge Beryl Howell to dismiss the OAN defendants from the litigation. In addition to the network itself, those defendants are OAN Chief Executive Robert Herring, President Charles Herring and reporter Chanel Rion.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed in a joint status report filed with the court.

The settlement will leave only Mr. Giuliani as a defendant. Joseph Sibley, the lawyer representing the OAN defendants and Giuliani, did not respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit alleges that OAN broadcast stories that falsely accused Ms. Moss and Ms. Freeman of conspiring to produce secret batches of illegal ballots and running them through voting machines to help Joe Biden, a Democrat, defeat Trump, a Republican.

There is no evidence to support the election fraud claims, which have been repeatedly debunked by Georgia election officials.

Mr. Giuliani, who spearheaded Mr. Trump's efforts to overturn Mr. Biden's election win, appeared at a hearing with Georgia lawmakers in which he showed snippets of surveillance video showing the two women at work in a ballot-processing room at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. He repeatedly identified Ms. Moss and Ms. Freeman by name, calling them "crooks" who "obviously" stole votes.

A state investigation said the full video showed that the women were properly and legally counting ballots.

Mr. Biden won a narrow victory in Georgia in 2020, helped by a strong showing in Atlanta, which is located in Fulton County.

Mr. Trump's election campaign team circulated OAN stories about the two women and Mr. Trump himself played excerpts of the video at a rally with voters.

Ms. Moss and Ms. Freeman reported being besieged by violent threats from Trump supporters after OAN and the Trump campaign began circulating the reports.

The lawsuit sought the removal of the reports about Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss from OAN's websites and other media channels, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

Ms. Moss and Ms. Freeman, in their joint status report, said they had a "successful one-day mediation" on Tuesday with the OAN defendants and had "signed a binding set of settlement terms" with them.

Michael Gottlieb, a lawyer for Ms. Moss and Ms. Freeman, called it "a fair and reasonable settlement," in a statement.