Aleksej Gubarev’s defamation lawsuit against BuzzFeed for naming him in the so-called Trump Russia dossier was dismissed this week.
The dossier, which BuzzFeed noted in its early 2017 publication was unverified, alleged Gubarev, who runs the tech company XBT, helped hack the Democratic Party,
Gubarev sued BuzzFeed in February 2017 over the dossier’s claims he was recruited by Russia’s FSB and helped hack the Democratic National Committee. As iMediaEthics reported at the time, BuzzFeed removed Gubarev’s name from the dossier after Gubarev sued.
Gubarev’s lawyer, Val Gurvits, told iMediaEthics by e-mail Dec. 20: “First and foremost, nothing in yesterday’s ruling by the Court suggests in any way that the allegations concerning Mr. Gubarev, Webzilla, or XBT Holding were true.”
“Instead, the Court ruled on a narrow legal issue, finding that Buzzfeed had a privilege to publish the information even if it was false. The Court’s ruling was primarily based on its finding that a hyperlink to a CNN article was sufficient for the average reader of the Buzzfeed article to believe that Buzzfeed was reporting on some ‘official action.’ We obviously disagree. The issue is one of first impression for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals; we will be filing our notice of appeal immediately; and we look forward to presenting our legal arguments to the appeals court. We filed our Notice of Appeal yesterday. When we started this case, we knew that it would be a marathon and not a sprint. We remain convinced that, after appeal, this matter will be presented to a jury and that we will succeed in vindicating the Plaintiffs’ good names.”
On Twitter, BuzzFeed’s CEO Ben Smith, said BuzzFeed is “thrilled” by the ruling and stood by its initial publication. “As we have said from the start, a document that had been circulating at the highest levels of government, under active investigation by the FBI, and briefed to two successive presidents, is clearly the subject of ‘official action,'” he said in part. “Moreover, its publication has contributed to the American people’s understanding of what is happening in their country and their government.
Pres. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen sued BuzzFeed in January of this year over the dossier. In April, however, Cohen dropped the lawsuit.