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Russian Tech Executive Files Defamation Lawsuit Against BuzzFeed Over Dossier

The lawsuit claims that the publication of an unverified dossier about President Donald Trump's alleged ties to Russia was defamatory.

Posted on February 3, 2017, at 7:21 p.m. ET

Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

A Russian tech executive named in an explosive dossier published last month by BuzzFeed News has sued BuzzFeed and its top editor for defamation.

Aleksej Gubarev, the CEO of web company XBT, called the publication of the document “reckless and irresponsible.”

The suit, which was filed in Florida against BuzzFeed and editor-in-chief Ben Smith, said that allegations in the document regarding Gubarev are untrue.

“We have redacted Mr. Gubarev's name from the published dossier, and apologize for including it,” Matt Mittenthal, spokesman for BuzzFeed News, said in a statement.

CNN first reported the lawsuit. "I'm really damaged by this story. This is why I'm ready to spend money and go to court about this," Gubarev told CNN, adding that his business has suffered as a result of the publication of the dossier.

A lawyer for Gubarev declined to comment.

The document, which was written by a former British intelligence official, had been circulating among government officials and media organizations attempting to chase down leads in the report.

Some claims in the document, which alleged ties between President Trump and Russia, were unconfirmed and salacious. The publication of the dossier prompted swift denial from Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

BuzzFeed News published the document shortly after CNN reported that a two-page synopsis of the report was given then-President Obama and then-President-elect Trump.

BuzzFeed News’s publication of the dossier has been debated heavily in media circles. “The documents were in wide circulation among top intelligence and elected officials and news organizations. They were being fought over — and acted on — at the highest levels of power. But the rest of the country was getting only the occasional glimpse of those battles, never the source documents themselves,” Smith wrote in a New York Times op-ed, defending the decision to publish.

The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan wrote that the dossier did “absolutely nothing to help” trust in media organizations. “It’s never been acceptable to publish rumor and innuendo,” she wrote.

At a press conference after the dossier was published, Trump called BuzzFeed a “failing pile of garbage” and CNN “fake news.”

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.