The Wall Street Journal has fired chief foreign affairs correspondent Jay Solomon for what the paper called a “breach” and ethical lapses over his involvement with an Iranian-born arms dealer.
Washington Bureau Chief Paul Beckett made the announcement to staff during a hastily called meeting on Wednesday after meeting with senior editors in New York the day before. Beckett did not elaborate on Solomon’s situation, only to say that an upcoming Associated Press investigation would have more details. Beckett took no questions and asked any staffers who knew anything about the situation to come forward, according to multiple sources.
Shortly after the announcement, the Associated Press on Wednesday afternoon published an article that said Solomon was offered a 10 percent stake in a company called Denx LLC by “Farhad Azima, an Iranian-born aviation magnate who has ferried weapons for the CIA.” Azima, the article said, was also one of Solomon’s sources for years. Solomon’s involvement was unearthed as part of an AP investigation into Azima, in which the AP obtained a “collection of tens of thousands of emails his lawyers say was stolen by hackers,” which included conversations between Azima and Solomon.
According to the AP, Solomon spent more than a year discussing the business effort with Azima, though it’s not clear from those messages that Solomon took any concrete steps to make the ideas a reality. The hacked messages included one in which Solomon said in October 2014, “Our business opportunities are so promising.”
In another email from April 2015, Azima wrote to Solomon about a $725 million proposal contract with the United Arab Emirates that would “allow planes to spy on activity inside nearby Iran.” According to the emails, Solomon was expected to “ferry the proposal” to government representatives from the UAE at a lunch the next day.
“We all wish best of luck to Jay on his first defense sale,” Azima wrote in an email also sent to Solomon, according to the AP.