Why Chobani is suing Alex Jones, right-wing radio host

BOISE, Idaho - Greek yogurt giant Chobani is suing right-wing radio host Alex Jones, accusing the conspiracy theorist of publishing false information about the company.

Chobani alleges that Jones and his InfoWars website posted fabricated stories earlier this month that linked Chobani owner Hamdi Ulukaya and the company to a sexual assault case involving refugee children.

The complaint says InfoWars released a video on April 11 falsely claiming that Chobani was “importing migrant rapists,” and that the site’s goal was to cause customers to boycott Chobani’s products.

Chobani’s attorneys say Jones has ignored requests to remove the inaccurate coverage.

Chobani filed the lawsuit Monday in Idaho District Court in Twin Falls, where the company operates its largest yogurt plant in the world. It’s seeking $10,000 in damages.

Among the false statements Chobani’s lawsuit alleges are “accusations that Chobani was ‘caught importing migrant rapists’ and that Chobani’s plant has brought ‘crime and tuberculosis’ to the Twin Falls community.”

Regarding such claims, “Alex Jones is no stranger to spurious statements,” the lawsuit said. “He has claimed that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks and the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.” It added: “Mr. Jones has now taken aim at Chobani and the Twin Falls community.” 

Jones retweeted the video link on April 11:

InfoWars didn’t immediately respond to an AP request for comment, nor did it respond to a CBS MoneyWatch request for comment.

Jones says his shows, which are broadcast on radio, YouTube and other platforms, reach at least 70 million people a week.

In a March profile, Fast Company magazine described what happened after Chobani CEO Ulukaya’s left Turkey and came to the U.S.:

In October 1994, Ulukaya arrived in New York City, a skinny young man with a small suitcase and $3,000 for living expenses, on his way to Long Island’s Adelphi University. He spoke almost no English. “I was extremely scared,” Ulukaya said. “I was aware that this was going to be very, very difficult. But I was excited.”

What happened next is one of the business world’s most unlikely stories: An aimless young anticapitalist immigrates to the U.S. simply because he needs a place to go, and through grit, determination, and eerie prescience about changing American tastes somehow builds a massive brand that eventually dominates the $3.6 billion Greek yogurt industry, besting international conglomerates such as Danone and General Mills. But Ulukaya has done more than that. He has begun to forge a new kind of business leadership, one that fuses competitiveness with an unusually strong sense of compassion. 

One of Ulukaya’s missions has been to help fellow immigrants. According to Fast Company, about 30 percent of Chobani’s workforce of 2,000 are immigrants, and some 400 are refugees.