Portsmouth, OH asked in Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, International Law and Libel & Slander for Ohio

Q: Can I be sued from someone outside the US?

I am located in the USA. Someone living in Spain, is threatening to sue me for "defamation" in regards to something I wrote about them on my personal Twitter account. Can they sue me from their country, and aren't my opinions written on my personal Twitter account protected by the Free Speech laws of the USA?

1 Lawyer Answer
Matthew Williams
Matthew Williams
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Licensed in Ohio

A: Free speech protections do not apply to defamation, and opinions are not defamation. Defamation is a false statement of fact (not opinion) that damages a person's reputation. If I say John the surgeon is the worst, I am not uttering defamation because that's my opinion of John. If say John the surgeon left a scalpel in my body, and it is not true, that is defamation.

In all likelihood, a person living in Spain would sue you in Spanish courts because the damage done to their reputation would probably be in Spain. Enforcing a foreign judgment, while not impossible, is very difficult, so I suspect they are full of hot air here. But, if you said something that was both a false fact and damaging to this person's reputation, you might want to sit down with an attorney to discuss your exposure.

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