Meet the man behind poorly spelled lawsuit against WikiLeaks

While asset-hiding Wall Street traders perch on their windowsills waiting for the latest from WikiLeaks — which plans to release more than 2,000 secret banking records of tax-cheats — founder Julian Assange has bigger fish to fry.

No, not the Swedish sexual abuse charges that have left him on house arrest in England.

We're talking about the very poorly spelled lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade by David Pitchford, a disabled man who lists a Key West trailer park as his address and who achieved notoriety a decade ago by suing Osama bin Laden for $1.1 trillion.

Laugh all you want, Pitchford tells New Times: Assange is going to pay him everything he's worth.

"I'm not a village idiot. I just don't know how to spell," he says. "I simply do not believe a person should jeopardize the United States of America, and I'm doing something about it."

Pitchford — who speaks with a heavy slur because of a stroke — says he moved to Florida decades ago to work as a ship captain. He ended up repairing boats in Key West because he wanted to follow in Ernest Hemingway's footsteps and write a memoir.

Alas, a heart attack, stroke, and shattered hip left him living on disability checks. So instead of writing, he's filing pro se lawsuits.

His biggest splash was a liberally capitalized complaint filed one month after 9/11. Pitchford demanded $100 million in compensation and $1 trillion in punitive damages from bin Laden, arguing that "the THREATS made and TERRORIST acts committed are COWARDLY."

The case fell apart, though: "I could not get the federal government to serve Osama," Pitchford laments.

In his new broadside against Assange, Pitchford launches a laundry list of complaints: WikiLeaks has worsened his hypertension, stress, and depression, and left him "in fear of being on the brink of Nucliar [sic] WAR".

He's asking for $100 million. But he's not out for the cash: "If I recover a dime, I'm going to give it back to the U.S. government to repair the damage."

Pitchford doesn't discuss it, but the roots of his troubles may go much deeper than existential threats posed by WikiLeaks or bin Laden. The clues, in fact, can be found in another suit filed in 2001 against Anheuser Busch.

"The plaintiffs were lured to and consumed in large quantities of Budweiser, the King of Beers," he writes in the suit, which asked for either $100 million or the company's Super Bowl ad budget, whichever was greater. "Said addiction has caused, and continues to cause, the Plaintiffs to live in a virtual 'HELL ON EARTH.' "

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink

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