Court dismisses Russian oligarchs’ lawsuit over Steele dossier
A judge in Washington, D.C., on Monday ruled in favor of Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who authored a dossier of alleged ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia, in a libel suit.
In the ruling first reported by The Guardian, Judge Anthony Epstein upheld a decision to dismiss a case by three Russian oligarchs who had sued Steele and his firm for defamation for reports in the dossier. The judge said the men had not sufficiently proved that Steele knew any of the information in the document was false.
Republicans and allies of President Trump have erroneously accused the FBI of beginning an investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia based off claims made in the Steele dossier, when in fact the investigation was launched due to comments former campaign aide George Papadopoulos made to Australian officials.
The judge said the ruling was not on the merits of the information itself, The Guardian noted, and instead hinged on whether Steele acted with malice to defame the businessmen.
The three men, Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan, own stakes in Alfa Bank, a Russia-based bank that was alleged in the dossier, among other charges, to have been involved in illicit payments made to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Alfa has denied the charges, telling The Guardian in a statement that it “strongly disagreed” with the judge’s findings and that the company would “almost certainly appeal” the decision.
Steele’s attorney, Christy Hull Eikhoff, told the newspaper that attacks on Steele’s credibility were “baseless” and that Steele would continue to fight any legal claims arising from his work on the dossier.
“We will continue to defend against baseless attacks on Chris and hope that the result of this case will be a message to those who seek to intimidate Chris and his company,” she said.
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