NY Times backs unsealing of ‘dossier’ allegations; Russian entrepreneur claims ‘smear campaign’

by WorldTribune Staff, November 28, 2018

The New York Times has asked a U.S. District Court in Miami to unseal a section of the unverified anti-Trump “dossier” which accuses a Russian entrepreneur of taking part in the hacking of Democratic Party computers.

The Times intervened in the case of Aleksej Gubarev, founder of Webzilla, who is suing BuzzFeed, which first published the dossier, for libel.

Aleksej Gubarev is accusing BuzzFeed of launching a smear campaign against him. / AP

The Times is siding with BuzzFeed by asking the federal judge to unseal the news website’s motions and exhibits.

Val Gurvits, the attorney for Gubarev, accused BuzzFeed of a “smear campaign” by inserting unproven allegations about the Russian tech mogul’s customers into those same motions that the judge has sealed.

The Times “has been a leading journalistic force in pushing the theory that the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to interfere in the 2016 presidential election – a charge repeatedly made by (dossier author) Christopher Steele,” security correspondent Rowan Scarborough noted in a Nov. 27 report for The Washington Times.

Rachel E. Fugate, attorney for the New York Times, said in an October motion in the Gubarev case: “To say that there is public interests in this case is an understatement. For almost two years, national and international political debate has revolved around the notorious ‘dossier’ – a document that contains explosive, and at times salacious, allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia.”

“The redacted and sealed information in the dispositive motions is a matter of immense public interest and will almost certainly play a critical role in this court’s analysis of the merits of the motions,” Fugate said. “The Times seeks to intervene for the limited purpose of ensuring that the public’s rights of access are considered.”

Gubarev denies he had anything to do with the Russian government hacking, “and no evidence shows he did,” Scarborough noted.

Gurvits told The Washington Times that BuzzFeed, after having defamed the businessman with the dossier, is trying to sully his reputation further.

He said the BuzzFeed legal team, which includes lawyer Roy Black, is filing various motions and attaching to them unproven charges against Gubarev’s customers. He said their motive is to suggest that his clients are nefarious operators and could have done the hacking, or that Webzilla hardware was used at some point.

“This is nothing short of a smear campaign by BuzzFeed,” Gurvits said. “They don’t have evidence of any wrongdoing by plaintiff or the plaintiff’s customers. They don’t. They are simply trying to damage the reputation of the complaining person just to somehow affect his credibility even though the information is in no way relevant to the case and is inadmissible.”

The judge granted Gubarev’s emergency motion and ordered certain sections redacted pending a final ruling.

Gurvits said he suspects that The New York Times entered the case at BuzzFeed’s request. “I don’t believe in coincidences,” he said. “It sure is suspicious to me.”

Fugate told The Washington Times: “We made the motion at the request of our reporters who are covering the Russia story. BuzzFeed played no role in our decision to intervene.”

Gurvits said that throughout the arguments and filings one fact remains. “There is no evidence my guy hacked the DNC. here is no evidence my guy’s infrastructure hacked the DNC. There is no evidence my guy’s clients hacked the DNC.”

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