updated 7/1/2005 8:55:23 AM ET 2005-07-01T12:55:23

Stun gun maker Taser International Inc. on Friday said it filed a lawsuit against USA Today publisher Gannett Co., charging it with libel for publishing articles that Taser said misled readers about the safety of its products.

Taser said it filed suit in Arizona Superior Court charging Gannett with alleged libel, false light invasion of privacy, injurious falsehood and tortious interference with business relations.

A Gannett spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

The lawsuit centers on a USA Today article from June 3, which Taser said vastly overstated the level of electrical output of one of Taser's stun guns. Moreover, the newspaper "further sensationalized" the story by featuring photos comparing the Taser gun with an electric chair, a lightning storm and an electric train track, Taser said.

The article reported the electrical output of the gun was more than 100 times that of the electric chair, though the average electrical current of Taser guns is 1,000 times less than that of an electric chair, the company added.

Taser, which has been under scrutiny over the safety of its stun guns, said it is suing Gannett for publishing what it said were incorrect stories that erased more than $1 billion of shareholder value.

"Because Taser International Inc. does not have the ability to transmit the factual data correcting these biases and libel to the millions of readers who read these articles in USA Today, Gannett papers, and their Web sites, we have turned to the court system to provide remedies and hold those responsible accountable," the company said.

Taser shares rose 23 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $10.27 in premarket activity. The stock is down about 68 percent so far this year.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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