Pakistani-American Tech Entrepreneur Zia Chishti Wins Major Defamation Lawsuit Against Magazine

Narratives Magazine had leveled serious accusations against Chishti, labeling his reputation as “toxic” and citing various allegations against him

Pakistani-American Tech Entrepreneur Zia Chishti Wins Major Defamation Lawsuit Against Magazine

Pakistani-American tech entrepreneur Zia Chishti has won a major defamation lawsuit against Narratives Magazine and its editor over false, defamatory, and malicious allegations. 

Chishti is a serial tech entrepreneur who founded the multi-billion-dollar company behind Invisalign dental braces apart from establishing the multi-billion-dollar artificial intelligence company Afiniti. Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain had awarded Chishti the Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 2018.

The Narratives Magazine had leveled serious accusations against Chishti, labeling his reputation as “toxic” and citing serious but ultimately unfounded allegations of criminal and corporate misconduct against him. 

The matter then landed in the Lahore High Court which ruled that Chishti had been defamed. Judge Muhammad Farhan Nabi ruled that no credible evidence had been offered by the magazine in its defense and that the magazine had caused Chishti severe damage. The editor was “also directed to publish a clarification along with an apology in his magazine regarding the article in question.”

When reached for comment, Chishti stated: “I thank the Lahore High Court for providing me justice. I also want to thank my family and my closest friends for standing with me through exceptionally difficult times. This is the first of many cases I intend to win as the truth increasingly comes to light.”

Harvard Professor Emeritus and renowned litigator Alan Dershowitz took a personal interest in the proceedings. He commented in a statement: “The decision from the Lahore High Court in Pakistan is the first to vindicate Chishti’s position that the allegations against him are just that: allegations. I have advised Chishti and followed this case with interest. It is part of a broader set of defamation lawsuits brought by Chishti, including suits against his accuser in the US and against the Telegraph in the UK. Many in politics, business, and the press rushed to judge Chishti simply on the allegations leveled against him, without giving Chishti any opportunity to establish his innocence.” 

Dershowitz continued, “The Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives, for example, allowed his accuser a national stage to level her accusations without providing any opportunity to Chishti for rebuttal. Such conduct is an unfortunate feature of the present climate in which the principles of justice on which all nations governed by the rule of law—due process and a strong presumption of innocence—have taken a back seat to virtue-signaling and ‘always believe the victim’ thinking. By setting the record straight in the courts, Chishti is taking a brave step both towards clearing his name and towards finding a better balance between the rights of the accuser and the accused.”

Chishti was represented in this case by barrister Faisal Nawaz. “I am proud to have represented Chishti in this case and glad to see justice done, " commented Nawaz. He continued that an article disparaging Chishti was published without attempting to reach out to him for comment. Such behaviour, he said, deserved and received the strongest sanctions.

Apart from Pakistan, Chishti has filed several defamation lawsuits, including one against Britain’s powerful right-wing paper, The Telegraph. In late 2021 and early 2022, The Telegraph had published a series of articles about Chishti. As with Narratives Magazine, The Telegraph had picked up on his former employee, Tatiana Spottiswoode's, allegations against him, which were delivered in front of the US Congress in November 2021. In the UK, Chishti is being represented by Adrienne Page KC, who declined to comment based on the pendency of the proceedings.

Chishti has also sued Spottiswoode and her attorneys for defamation in the United States. In his US complaint, he included text conversations with Spottiswoode that seemingly indicate a consensual relationship between the two. He claims to have evidence which shows their relationship was based on mutual consent and trust, and that it was spread over months and years. 

A key part of Spottiswoode’s defense appears to be that because her allegations against Chishti were made to the US Congress, she has legal immunity against Chishti’s defamation lawsuit. In the US, Chishti is represented by Benjamin Chew, a well-known litigator who previously successfully represented actor Johnny Depp under similar circumstances. 

Chew said in a statement: “The Lahore High Court issued a detailed memorandum judgment sustaining all elements of Zia Chishti’s defamation claim against the author of a now thoroughly discredited hit piece. Specifically, the Honourable Muhammad Farhan Nabi, District Judge, ruled that the article at issue in Chishti’s complaint ‘is defamatory in nature and contains unfounded, false, baseless, and disparaging statements and representations in written form against the plaintiff to injure his reputation in society.’”

Chew continued that Judge Nabi had underscored the strength of Chishti’s claims and the unfairness of the author’s approach:  ‘That the malicious and malafide intention of the defendant is clear from the fact that while editing, publishing, and circulating the article, [Chishti] was not provided any opportunity to express his viewpoint in respect of the false, unfounded, and baseless allegations made against [him] in the article.’ We believe and hope that this important decision should be the first of several vindications of Chishti and his reputation.”

As a result of the allegations against him, in November 2021, Chishti had stepped down from his leadership role in TRG. Since then, the company has been led by Chishti’s former business associates, Hasnain Aslam and Mohammed Khaishgi, who have initiated litigation in both Pakistan and the US against Chishti, seeking to prevent him from retaking control of TRG, primarily adopting the same line of argument leveled by Narratives Magazine and now discredited by the Lahore High Court as being without basis. 

Chishti, Khaishgi and Aslam are embroiled in a verbal joust with allegations of civil and criminal misconduct flying about. Chishti, however, has called for a general meeting of TRG shareholders to remove them from their positions on the board of TRG. 

People associated with TRG declined to comment on the matter on record. Repeated emails to the attorneys representing Spottiswoode and her co-defendants offering them the opportunity to state their position without the benefit of immunity provided by the US Congress went unanswered.