Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s libel lawsuit against the Associated Press was dismissed. Deripaska, the CEO of United Company RUSAL, sued the AP in May over its story claiming Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign manager, “secretly worked” for Deripaska at $10 million a year to promote Russian president Vladimir Putin.
After the case was dismissed, Associated Press spokesperson Lauren Easton told iMediaEthics by e-mail, “The Associated Press is pleased with the court’s decision. As we have said, we stand by our reporting and will continue to stand by our story.”
The U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle dismissed the case this week because she found Deripaska is a “limited-purpose public figure” requiring him to meet a higher par to prove libel, Politico reported. That standard included proving actual malice or reckless disregard of the truth, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty reported, noting “the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice.”
Further, Huvelle ruled that Deripaska’s lawsuit alleges the article linked him to Russian interference with the U.S. election, which she said the article did not do. “Deripaska has cherry-picked sentences and strung them together to give the AP’s article an effect it does not have when read in full,” according to Courthouse News.
“The Court notes that Deripaska does not dispute any material facts presented in the AP’s discussion of the factual background as it relates to Deripaska’s biography and his role in advancing Russian interests international,” Huvelle ruled, according to Politico. “Given this concession and the many articles cited that reference Deripaska on this topic … there can be no doubt a public controversy exists relating to Russian oligarchs acting on behalf of the Russian government.”
iMediaEthics has written to Deripaska’s lawyer for a response to the ruling.