Wall Street Journal fires foreign affairs correspondent for ties to gunrunner

The Wall Street Journal has fired Jay Solomon, its chief foreign affairs correspondent, after the newspaper learned he was unethically entangled in the business dealings of one of his sources.

The Associated Press uncovered that Solomon was offered a 10 percent stake in a company called Denx LLC while reporting on the company's founder, aviation magnate Farhad Azima, according to The Associated Press. The AP contacted The Wall Street Journal for an explanation after unearthing emails and text messages between Azima and Solomon.

In a statement to Poynter, The Wall Street Journal said it was "dismayed" by Solomon's behavior.

We are dismayed by the actions and poor judgment of Jay Solomon. The allegations raised by this reporting are serious. While our own investigation continues, we have concluded that Mr. Solomon violated his ethical obligations as a reporter, as well as our standards. He has not been forthcoming with us about his actions or his reporting practices and he has forfeited our trust. Mr. Solomon is no longer employed by The Wall Street Journal.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Solomon said he "clearly made mistakes in my reporting and entered into a world I didn’t understand."

“I never entered into any business with Farhad Azima, nor did I ever intend to. But I understand why the emails and the conversations I had with Mr. Azima may look like I was involved in some seriously troubling activities. I apologize to my bosses and colleagues at the Journal, who were nothing but great to me.”

Solomon pulled out of the venture after it became clear that the business wasn't going to be a success, according to two sources interviewed by The Associated Press.

Earlier this week, The Associated Press published a story about Azima, an Iranian-born businessman who has smuggled guns for the CIA. Azima is now the target of a corruption probe that examines whether the plane mogul paid a bribe to the United Arab Emirates to siphon money from a hotel sale in Tbilisi, Georgia.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.

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