In 2008, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an Alabama-based non-profit civil rights organization, published an article titled, "State of Denial: Turkey Spends Millions to Cover Up Armenian Genocide." It was a hard-hitting exposé of the Turkish government's elaborate and sinister efforts to pressure U.S. politicians and entice academics to deny the facts of the Armenian genocide.
According to the SPLC article, "Turkey exerts political leverage and spends millions of dollars in the United States to obfuscate the Armenian genocide... Revisionist historians who conjure doubt about the Armenian genocide... are paid by the Turkish government."
In response to complaints from SPLC supporters opposing the settlement, however, Penny Weaver, a public affairs spokesman, stated:
We now realize that we misunderstood Prof. Lewy's scholarship, were wrong to assert that he was part of a network financed by the Turkish government, and were wrong to assume that any scholar who challenges the Armenian genocide narrative necessarily has been financially compromised by the government of Turkey. We hereby retract the assertion that Prof. Lewy was or is on the government of Turkey's payroll... We deeply regret our errors and offer our sincerest apologies to Professor Lewy.
The original article which precipitated the lawsuit is still posted on the SPLC's website. Needless to say, no one should be defamed because of his or her views on the Armenian genocide, no matter how wrong or offensive they are. Unless one possesses evidence to the contrary, one cannot simply assume that those making distorted statements on the Armenian Genocide are motivated by greed or are paid agents of the Turkish government. It is both commendable and ironic that lawyers for a Turkish interest group are eager to file a multi-million dollar lawsuit in the United States ostensibly to defend the civil rights of a client. In Turkey, however, anyone who dares to talk about the Armenian genocide risks being charged for telling the truth and thrown into prison for years under the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code which bans "insulting Turkishness!" If TALDF were truly interested in protecting civil rights, it would allocate its considerable resources to abolish Article 301, which would considerably lessen its financial support from generous donors and bring its operations to a halt.
Our settlement of this matter does not mean we are endorsing Mr. Lewy's views or taking his side. But we are acknowledging that we mischaracterized his views and wrongly said that he was taking money from the Turkish government. It was an error, and we apologize for that.