[WASHINGTON] Melania Trump, the wife of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on Thursday sued two media outlets that alleged she worked as an escort in the 1990s.
Filed in a Maryland court, the suit is against Mail Media, Inc which publishes the Daily Mail Online, and Webster G Tarpley, who publishes a blog.
A Slovenian ex-model, Melania is seeking damages to the tune of US$150 million.
"These defendants made several statements about Mrs Trump that are 100 per cent false and tremendously damaging to her personal and professional reputation," her attorney Charles Harder said.
"Defendants broadcast their lies to millions of people throughout the US and the world." "Defendants' actions are so egregious, malicious and harmful to Mrs Trump that her damages are estimated at US$150 million."
The Daily Mail Online issued a retraction of the article, which the outlet had published on August 20 with the headline "Naked photoshoots, and troubling questions about visas that won't go away: The VERY racy past of Donald Trump's Slovenian wife".
The article "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'," the retraction said.
"The point of the article was that these allegations could impact the US presidential election even if they are untrue." Mr Harder specialises in cases that involve privacy protection and defamation.
He represented former wrestler Hulk Hogan in his successful lawsuit against Gawker Media, which resulted in a US$140 million jury award against the entertainment website for releasing a sex tape featuring Hogan and a friend's wife.
The decision caused Gawker to shutter its flagship website after the court order drove the company to bankruptcy.
The poised, impeccably dressed Melania is 24 years younger than her billionaire husband. She is Donald's third wife and the mother of their young son Barron.
Her modelling 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.
The allegations she was an escort are the latest in a series of salacious moments the potential first lady has faced.
The New York Post ran a series of nude photos featuring her earlier this summer, images taken in 1995 when she was 25 and working as a model.
She brought some pizzazz to the Republican Convention in July, but an embarrassing plagiarism scandal tarnished her prime-time speech.
Melania also unwittingly found herself in the eye of the primary storm when an anti-Trump political group unveiled a questionable ad on Facebook that used a photo of her lying naked and handcuffed to a briefcase.