Chinese Billionaire Sues WarnerMedia, CNN’s Erin Burnett for Defamation

Guo Wengui fled China following accusations of corruption in 2014 and resides in the U.S.

Erin Burnett at WarnerMedia Upfront
Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images / WarnerMedia

Billionaire Guo Wengui, a fugitive from China who resides in the United States, has filed a defamation lawsuit against WarnerMedia and CNN’s Erin Burnett, saying that a July 23 episode of “Erin Burnett OutFront” contained false statements about him.

In papers filed in New York Supreme Court, obtained by TheWrap, Guo says he has filed lawsuits against other individuals who have called him “spy,” “fraud,” and “liar,” and says the “OutFront” episode named in the lawsuit included a teaser that said “the Chinese billionaire and member of Mar-a-Lago accused of being a spy.”

The lawsuit says also that the episode, which featured Miami Herald reporter Sarah Blaskey, aired “untrue statements” because it suggested he might have been associated with a woman who was arrested for bringing a thumbdrive containing malware into Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club. Guo is also a Mar-a-Lago member.

The suit quotes Burnett, via a transcript published on CNN, as saying: “We’re going to continue following this story to try to find out what federal authorities do know about Mr. Guo if anything, or if he has been caught up in the investigation that you mentioned, the ongoing investigation into possible espionage at Mar-a-Lago.”

The lawsuit also takes issue with how Guo’s legal status was described. “Both Defendant Burnett and Blaskey state that Plaintiff’s ‘deportation was halted,’ incorrectly implying that Mr. Guo was on the verge of being deported, and thus, was an ‘undesirable’ person to have in the United States,” the filing reads. “This is patently untrue, Plaintiff was never and has never been on the verge of being deported, nor was his deportation ‘halted’ because no deportation process had begun which would require it to be ‘halted’.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump considered deporting Guo in 2017 on the request of the Chinese government, but changed his mind.

Guo, once ranked the 73rd richest person in China, fled the country in 2014 after he was accused of 19 criminal offenses including bribing, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud and rape. Guo maintains he a whistleblower who fled China fearing political persecution, and has accused leaders of the country’s ruling Communist Party of various misdeeds.

In the filing, Guo said the Chinese government “has gone to extensive lengths to silence Guo and have him extradited back to China,” including using social media to “drum up fake accusations.”

Guo is seeking at least $50 million in damages, and demands that WarnerMedia, which owns CNN, publish a retraction and take down any online versions of the story.

Representatives for WarnerMedia and Erin Burnett did not immediately respond to a request for comment.