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Melania Trump revives suit against escort allegations
[WASHINGTON] America's first lady Melania Trump has relaunched a lawsuit in New York seeking multi-million dollar damages against the publishers of the Daily Mail Online, for reporting rumours that she worked as an escort in the 1990s.
In a separate but related case, President Donald Trump's wife, a former Slovenian model, settled a suit Tuesday against a blogger who made the same escort claims.
Both suits were originally filed in Maryland in September, but the complaint against the Daily Mail was rejected on grounds that the court lacked geographical jurisdiction over the matter, which would need to be heard in New York.
On Monday, Mrs Trump's lawyers moved to ensure it is, filing a suit in a New York court against Mail Media, Inc, which publishes the Daily Mail Online, asking for damages to the tune of US$150 million.
The Daily Mail Online already issued a retraction of its August 20 article and stated that it "did not intend to state or suggest that these allegations are true, nor did it intend to state or suggest that Mrs Trump ever worked as an 'escort' or in the 'sex business.'"
On Tuesday, lawyers announced Mrs Trump had settled her case in Maryland against blogger Webster G Tarpley.
Tarpley agreed to pay the first lady a "substantial sum" for having claimed she worked as a high-end escort girl, according to Trump lawyer Charles Harder, who did not specify the sum involved.
The blogger also acknowledged his wrongdoing in a statement, sent to AFP by Harder.
"I posted an article on August 2, 2016 about Melania Trump that was replete with false and defamatory statements about her," Mr Tarpley said.
"I acknowledge that these false statements were very harmful and hurtful to Mrs Trump and her family, and therefore I sincerely apologise to Mrs Trump, her son, her husband and her parents for making these false statements," he said.
The poised, impeccably dressed Melania is 24 years younger than her 70-year-old billionaire husband. She is Trump's third wife and the mother of their young son Barron.
Her modeling career brought her in 1996 to the United States, where two years later she met the real estate mogul and reality television star she would eventually marry.
Harder specialises in cases that involve privacy protection and defamation and recently represented former wrestler Hulk Hogan in his successful lawsuit against Gawker Media.