The Wall Street Journal has sacked its chief foreign affairs correspondent over his involvement in proposed deals with an Iranian-born arms dealer, saying he “violated his ethical obligations as a reporter”.
Jay Solomon was offered a 10 per cent stake in fledgling company Denx by one of his sources, Farhad Azima, who has ferried weapons for the CIA.
It was not clear whether Solomon received money or formally accepted a stake in the company.
“We are dismayed by the actions and poor judgment of Jay Solomon,” a spokesman for the US newspaper said on Wednesday.
Azima was the subject of an AP article published on Tuesday.
AP obtained emails and text messages between Azima and Solomon, as well as an operating agreement for Denx dated March 2015 that listed an apparent stake for Solomon.
“I clearly made mistakes in my reporting and entered into a world I didn’t understand,” Solomon told AP.
He said he never went into business with Azima but he understood why it “may look like I was involved in some seriously troubling activities”.
Two Denx partners – ex-CIA employees Gary Bernsten and Scott Modell – told AP that Solomon was involved in discussing proposed deals with Azima while he cultivated the businessman as a source for his stories.
Bernsten and Modell said Solomon withdrew from the venture shortly after business efforts began.
Denx was shuttered in 2016.
In an April 2015 email, Azima wrote to Solomon about a proposal for a $US725 million surveillance and reconnaissance support contract with the United Arab Emirates that would allow planes to spy on activity inside Iran.
Solomon was to take the proposal to UAE representatives the following day.
“We all wish best of luck to Jay on his first defence sale,” Azima wrote to Solomon, Bernsten and Modell.