Russian oligarch Deripaska drops libel suit against Associated Press

A Russian oligarch whose business dealings have come under scrutiny by investigators probing Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election has dropped a libel suit against The Associated Press.

Lawyers for aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, who worked closely with indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort several years ago, joined with the news service Tuesday in a joint court filing dismissing appeals of a judge’s decision in October tossing out the defamation lawsuit.

Deripaska’s suit, filed in May, alleged that an AP story published two months earlier falsely implied that Deripaska was paying Manafort for work aimed at advancing the goals of the Russian government and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The suit also said the article created the false impression that Deripaska’s dealings with Manafort were intertwined with the Trump campaign, despite the fact that the two men ended their work together by 2009.

U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the Russian businessman was “a limited purpose public figure” under U.S. libel law. That determination meant Deripaska needed to plausibly assert that the AP knew its story was false at the time it published it, something the judge found the complaint in the case failed to lay out.

Both sides appealed, with the AP objecting to a ruling from Huvelle that denied the news outlet the right to recover its attorneys fees under a D.C. law aimed at discouraging lawsuits designed to mute public debate.

The notice filed with the D.C. Circuit Tuesday dropping the appeals offered no explanation for the decision. There was also no indication of whether any money changed hands.

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Source: Politico | December 6, 2017 | Josh Gerstein

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