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Friday, May 26, 2017

Russian bank owners sue BuzzFeed for publishing dossier with unproven claims that it schemed with Russian gov. to influence 2016 U.S. presidential election. This is second entity suing BuzzFeed for publication of the dossier-Politico, 5/26/17

May 26, 2017, "Russian bank owners sue BuzzFeed over Trump dossier publication," Politico, Josh Gerstein
 
"The owners of a Russian bank are suing BuzzFeed for publishing a dossier containing unproven claims that the businessmen were involved in bribing Russian President Vladimir Putin years ago and took part in an alleged Russian government scheme to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan of Alfa Bank filed the defamation lawsuit Friday in state court in Manhattan, seeking unspecified damages from BuzzFeed as well as editor-in-chief Ben Smith, reporter Ken Bensinger and editors Miriam Elder and Mark Schoofs.

The suit seized on Smith admitting that at the time BuzzFeed published the dossier in January he knew aspects of the dossier were wrong and that other aspects of it were unproven. That admission indicates BuzzFeed had knowledge sufficient to meet the legal standard for libel, the court complaint says.

"The Article clearly states that the allegations contained in the Dossier were unverified and that the Dossier itself contained errors, including the repeated misspelling of Alfa's name, and could not be verified despite substantial efforts," wrote Alan Lewis and John Walsh of Carter Ledyard and Milburn, the law firm for the bank owners. "The false and defamatory statements published by Defendants of and concerning the Plaintiffs and Alfa, and the implications of those defamatory statements, were made with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard of whether they were true or false."

In a statement, BuzzFeed defended the publication of the dossier and warned of a possible chilling effect on reporters trying to explore potential connections between President Donald Trump, his election and the Russian government....

In February, BuzzFeed was sued by a Russian internet entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev over claims in the dossier that he and his firms used "botnets and porn traffic" to conduct a variety of cyber operations against Democratic Party leaders. At about the time the suit was filed, BuzzFeed apologized and redacted the information about Gubarev and his companies from the document on BuzzFeed's site. However, that suit has continued. BuzzFeed recently lost a bid to move the case from a federal court in Miami to one in New York."

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Added:

Second lawsuit against BuzzFeed by Russian entity ongoing. BuzzFeed failed in attempt to dismiss charges for lack of jurisdiction. Miami fed. judge says BuzzFeed must respond to Gubarev's libel charges by June 9. Mr. Gubarev says that "no one from the newssite contacted him for his side of the story." Gubarev also has slander lawsuit pending in London against former British spy Christopher Steele-Washington Times, 5/22/17

May 22, 2017, "Federal judge rules against BuzzFeed in libel lawsuit over anti-Trump dossier," Washington Times, Rowan Scarborough 

"A federal judge in Florida ruled Monday that a libel lawsuit over the infamous anti-Donald Trump dossier will remain in her Miami courtroom.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro ruled against a motion filed by the defendant Buzzfeed, which asked that the case be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The news website also had sought a change of venue to New York where it is headquartered. 

Buzzfeed posted the complete 35-page dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele on Jan. 10. 

Mr. Steele accused Russian-born tech entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev of taking part in an elaborate illegal hacking campaign against the Democratic Party during the 2016 election. Mr. Steele said Mr. Gubarev used botnets to bombard the Democrats’ computers with porn and bugging devices. 

Mr. Gubarev, founder of server-provider and Florida-based Webzilla, called the dossier fiction and filed a libel suit against Buzzfeed. He also filed a slander suit in London against Mr. Steele, who admitted in a court filing first reported by The Washington Times that he never verified the charge information. 

The dossier was circulated in Washington by Democratic-tied Fusion GPS, which paid Mr. Steele. 

Judge Ungaro signed an order dismissing Buzzfeed’s argument that trying the case in Florida presented a hardship for Editor Ben Smith and other employees. 

She also ordered Buzzfeed to file an answer to Mr. Gubarev charges by June. 9. 

“Although we’re confident that the case is strong no matter where it’s tried, we like the Southern District of Florida as a venue,” said Evan Fray Witzer, one of Mr. Gubarev’s attorneys. “They have smart, no-nonsense judges who like to move cases along quickly, which is what we want. The faster this case gets to trial, the faster Mr. Gubarev’s good name and reputation can be vindicated.” 

Mr. Gubarev contends that the allegations against him that Buzzfeed posted are false and that no one from the newssite contacted him for his side of the story."



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