The Russian dossier that Buzzfeed published in its entirety last month caused a flurry of media reporting, though it wasn’t clear that the documents were authentic. Members of the media and the press had knowledge of these documents, though didn’t publish them due to questions about the veracity of its contents. Buzzfeed decided to roll with it and now a Russian tech executive, who was named in the dossier, is suing them. The dossier claimed that the Russians had compromising personal and financial information on President Donald Trump (via McClatchy):
A Russian-tied tech firm named in a controversial dossier containing uncorroborated allegations about President Donald Trump and the hacking of Democratic National Committee email accounts announced late Friday that it has filed defamation suits against the online news site BuzzFeed, its editor in chief and a former British intelligence agent.
The lawsuits were brought by XBT Holdings, a Cyprus-based company owned by Russian tech magnate Aleksej Gubarev. Lawyers for his firm filed complaints Friday in London against the former spy and his company, and against BuzzFeed and its editor in chief, Ben Smith, in Broward County Circuit Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where XBT’s subsidiary Webzilla is headquartered.
“The dossier included libelous, unverified and untrue allegations regarding XBT, Webzilla and Gubarev. The lawsuits seek yet undetermined compensation for the damages suffered by XBT, Webzilla and Gubarev as the result of the publication of the dossier,” a statement said.
New York-based BuzzFeed Inc., which published the dossier in full on Jan. 10, wasn’t alone. Former spy Christopher Steele and his company Orbis Business Intelligence in London were named as defendants in the London suit.
In a statement to McClatchy, BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal said Friday night, “We have redacted Mr. Gubarev’s name from the published dossier, and apologize for including it.”
The publication added that Gubarev “has found his personal and professional reputation in tatters.” Steele, the former British intelligence operative who collected the information, had gone into hiding. Both anti-Trump Republicans and Democrats hired him for opposition research.
NBC’s Chuck Todd criticized BuzzFeed’s editor, Ben Smith, for publishing fake news.
“I’ve known you a long time, but you just published fake news. You made a knowing decision to put out an untruth,” said Todd. He also said that while some aspects of the dossier is redacted, the site did very little of it. The contents of the dossier remain unsubstantiated.