iPod contract maker sues journalists for defamation

The contract manufacturer of the iPod music player is striking back against journalists it believed defamed it, according to Chinese press reports.

The contract manufacturer of the iPod music player has filed lawsuits against two Chinese journalists who wrote articles about working conditions at factories where iPods are made, according to Chinese press reports.

Hongfujin Precision Industry is suing the journalists from the Shanghai-based China Business News for defamation, according to the English-language Web site of the official People's Daily newspaper.

Hongfujin, which is a subsidiary of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry's Foxconn Technology Group, is seeking 30 million renminbi (US$3.77 million) in damages, People's Daily reported.

The journalists are accused of defaming Hongfujin during their coverage of Apple Computer's investigation into working conditions at factories that make its iPod Nano music player.

The conditions were first covered in June in a report by the British "Mail on Sunday" newspaper, which accused Apple and its contractor of exploiting workers at the factory in southern China. Chinese media, including Chinese Business News, also picked up and investigated the claims.

Earlier this month, Apple released the results of its internal investigation, saying it found few violations at the iPod Nano manufacturing facility.

The Shenzhen Intermediate Court, which accepted the case, froze the assets of the two reporters, Weng Bao and Wang You.

On Tuesday, journalist rights group Reporters Without Borders published an open letter to Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs, calling on Jobs and Apple to pressure Foxconn to drop the suit.

Representatives from Foxconn did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

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Steven Schwankert

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