Mexico leftist presidential hopeful Lopez Obrador says to sue WSJ

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican leftist presidential hopeful Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday he would sue The Wall Street Journal for defamation after it published a story saying he had failed to fully disclose his assets in an August declaration.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, President of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party, delivers a speech to supporters, in Mexico City, Mexico June 26, 2016. REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme

Two-time runner-up for the presidency Lopez Obrador, or AMLO as he is known locally, said he would present his legal suit against the U.S. newspaper in Mexico City next week. He is considered a leading contender for Mexico’s presidency in 2018.

“I think (the story) slandered me and affected my image and what it represents,” he said in a local radio interview.

Lopez Obrador has railed relentlessly against political corruption and presented himself as a beacon of honesty to an electorate deeply cynical about the ruling elites. The Journal noted there was nothing illegal about Lopez Obrador’s actions.

In its story, published on Tuesday, the Journal said Lopez Obrador did not reveal two Mexico City properties he bought during his time as the capital’s mayor in an asset declaration.

The silver-haired politician has said the properties were donated to his sons, and his spokesman told the newspaper that the title deeds were not yet updated due to delays relating to the fact that Lopez Obrador’s first wife did not leave a will.

Donations can be contentious in Mexico. A Reuters report in 2015 showed that a property identified by President Enrique Pena Nieto in an official asset declaration as a donation was in fact purchased by him, according to public documents.

Pena Nieto, his wife and former finance minister all became embroiled in conflict-of-interest scandals over property purchases earlier in his term, damaging his credibility.

Lopez Obrador, who broke with Mexico’s main leftist party to found a new one after finishing second in the 2012 presidential vote, initially appeared to be a long shot to go one better at the next election in July 2018.

However, widespread public discontent over political corruption has helped push the former Mexico City mayor to the forefront of the main contenders to win, opinion polls show.

The newspaper did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Dave Graham and Cynthia Osterman