- The Washington Times
Saturday, February 4, 2017

BuzzFeed was sued for defamation by a Russian tech magnate Friday over its publication of a salacious dossier last month devoted largely to President Trump.

The alleged product of a former British spy, the explosive but unverified dossier claimed in part that Russian tech executive Aleksej Gubarev had been “recruited under duress” by Moscow to help wage cyberattacks against Democratic Party leadership last year using his Luxembourg-based web hosting company, XBT Holding, and a Florida subsidiary, Webzilla.

Attorneys for Mr. Gubarev dismissed the claims as “libelous, unverified and untrue” in a defamation suit brought against BuzzFeed and its editor in chief Ben Smith in a Fort Lauderdale court Friday.

Although “Buzzfeed and Smith specifically knew that at least portions of the dossier were untrue, they printed the entire document — without meaningful redactions — including those portions that falsely accused the Plaintiffs of participating in an alleged conspiracy to commit crimes against the Democratic Leadership, not to mention a conspiracy to undermine American Democracy and the 2016 election,” the complaint reads in part.

Buzzfeed and Smith published these allegations without having even taken the most basic step of contacting the Plaintiffs to ask if the allegations had any merit,” Mr. Gubarev’s attorney added, describing BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the uncorroborated allegations as “perhaps one of the most reckless and irresponsible moments in modern ‘journalism.’”

Mr. Gubarev “has found his personal and professional reputation in tatters” as a result of BuzzFeed’s publication, the lawsuit alleges.

BuzzFeed responded to the suit Friday by offering a public apology to Mr. Gubarev in addition to redacting his name from the copy of the dossier published on its website, but an attorney for the Russian tech tycoon said it plans to pursue litigation regardless of latest efforts.

“The financial damages my clients have suffered are extensive” Val Gurvits, an attorney for Mr. Gubarev and his companies, wrote in an email to Recode.

Mr. Gubarev’s attorneys are seeking at least $15,000 from BuzzFeed and a trial by jury, according to the complaint.

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