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Originally published Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 5:42 AM

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Feds: Murtha immune from Pa. Haditha slander suit

A Justice Department attorney says U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., should be immune from a defamation lawsuit filed by a former Marine from western Pennsylvania.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. —

A Justice Department attorney says U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., should be immune from a defamation lawsuit filed by a former Marine from western Pennsylvania.

Murtha's attorney says the lawsuit filed in September by Justin Sharratt, of Canonsburg, should be dismissed for the same reasons that a federal appeals court struck down a similar suit by another Marine last week. The appeals court ruled that Murtha couldn't be sued because he was acting within the scope of his employment when he accused Marines of killing innocent civilians "in cold blood" in Haditha, Iraq, in 2005.

Sharratt has been cleared of wrongdoing. He says Murtha's comments on TV news shows go beyond his duties as a congressman.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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