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.”
Steele is a former British intelligence agent who conducted opposition research on behalf of Trump’s political opponents from both major U.S. parties. The dossier, which was shared privately with reporters, lawmakers and law enforcement, exploded into the national debate after FBI director James Comey presented it to President Barack Obama and then President-elect Donald Trump.
Among other things, the document alleged, without corroboration, that the Trump campaign had worked with the Kremlin on penetrating Democratic National Committee computers. The dossier alleges XBT’s involvement and names Gubarev, saying he cooperated with Russian spy agencies under duress.
Trump dossier libel lawsuit names BuzzFeed, British spy | McClatchy DC