Soury Communications behind effort to free Tankleff

NEW YORK: Marty Tankleff, a Long Island man who was recently freed by new evidence after spending 17 years in prison for his parents' murder, was aided in his quest for freedom by years of pro bono work by Soury Communications.

NEW YORK: Marty Tankleff, a Long Island man who was recently freed by new evidence after spending 17 years in prison for his parents' murder, was aided in his quest for freedom by years of pro bono work by Soury Communications.

The New York-based firm, led by president Lonnie Soury, has been assisting Tankleff with media outreach, advocacy work, and online communications since 2003. Soury first became involved in a case when a private investigator working on Tankleff's behalf—who was a childhood friend of Soury—asked him to use his PR talents to help free the incarcerated man.

Soury says that his research quickly convinced him of Tankleff's innocence. He reached out to New York Times reporter Bruce Lambert to break the story, and got the ball rolling.

“That was the beginning of a five year local to global public relations and marketing awareness effort to get Marty out of prison,” Soury said.

He focused his outreach work not only on both New York and national media, but also on audiences like Long Island residents and elected officials and the legal community. He helped to lead a concerted effort that netted an amicus brief in support of Tankleff signed by 30 former prosecutors, considered a rare coup in the appellate process.

Soury and his colleagues also set up a Web site, MartyTankleff.org, that became “the center of his public voice” while he was in prison.

Tankleff was finally freed on December 21, and the district attorney announced that he will not be retried. The state is now conducting an investigation to determine what went wrong in his case.

“When Marty got out of prison, we had 15 cameras at the courthouse, dozens of photographers and journalists,” said Soury. “And what everybody said to me was that ‘Even if we haven't covered this all the time…we all knew about it.' I'd like to believe that was because of our work.”

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