A Washington, D.C. judge has tossed out a libel suit filed against Christopher Steele by three Russian oligarchs, resolving a months-long battle over allegations made in the ex-MI6 officer’s now-infamous dossier about President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. The Guardian reports the oligarchs—billionaire industrialists Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and German Khan—claimed that Steele defamed them in his report by saying they had ties to Vladimir Putin, and that an intermediary from a company they have stakes in delivered “illicit cash” to the future Russian president while he served as deputy mayor of Saint Petersburg. The dossier was published by BuzzFeed News in January 2017, causing political uproar and sparking lawsuits against Steele and BuzzFeed. In upholding Steele’s motion to toss the case on Monday, the judge did not rule on whether Steele’s claims were accurate. Instead, he stated the oligarchs failed to prove that Steele knew the information was false, and that he acted “with reckless disregard as to its falsity”—one of the necessary components of libel under U.S. law. The ruling also confirmed what Steele claimed in his motion: that the matter was a pressing public issue that should not be hampered by unfounded lawsuits.
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