El Pescador fights back

Fisherman Donato Dalrymple sues Janet Reno for violating his right to privacy.

Published May 24, 2000 1:00PM (EDT)

Donato Dalrymple, who you may remember from that picture (or video, if you were lucky enough to see it) a few weeks back as the man clutching Elian Gonzalez to his chest as an INS agent pried the boy away, is fighting back with a vengeance. This time, Dalrymple is seeking $100 million from Janet Reno, Ruth Meissner and Eric Holder, whom he accuses of violating his right to privacy in a lawsuit.

Dalrymple, who from the day he and his cousin rescued the boy at sea has just been "looking out for the best interests of little Eliancito," wasn't too happy about having a machine gun poked, point blank, at his body. "As a proximate result of the raid, Plaintiff has suffered substantial damages, including physical injuries resulting from the use of pepper spray during the raid, fear for his life and liberty, pain, suffering, sleeplessness, emotional distress, and loss of reputation, among other damages," the suit alleges.

But the said source of Dalrymple's sleeplessness and loss of reputation is dubious at best. Before and after the raid, as a confidanti to Marisleysis and Lazaro Gonzalez, he's been a fixture on the cable news talkies and filled inch after inch of newspaper columns with his babble -- from "Rivera Live" to Fox News to the Washington Post, offering such gems as, "I never made myself famous" or "Did you know Elian liked to lick my face?"

And which Clinton hater takes the case and offers the sound bite du jour? Did you guess Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick or Kathleen Willey? Wrong. But close. Larry Klayman, the outspoken and litigious chairman of Judicial Watch, will be doing the honors this time around.

"On Easter weekend, America was disgraced and harmed as Reno, Holder, and Meissner sent armed thugs to bring Elian back under the control of the communist dictator Fidel Castro," Klayman said in a statement. "Mr. Dalrymple's lawsuit seeks to hold these three personally accountable for their failure to obey the law and their willingness to destroy the liberties and lives of those who saved Elian and gave him refuge. This lawsuit will do much to rescue the heritage of this great nation."

By Daryl Lindsey

Daryl Lindsey is associate editor of Salon News and an Arthur Burns fellow. He currently lives in Berlin and writes for Salon and Die Welt.

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