A federal judge ruled in favor of BuzzFeed on Wednesday, bringing to a close a defamation lawsuit filed by a Russian technology executive over the website’s publication of a dossier containing unverified reports of connections between Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government.
In her ruling, Judge Ursula Ungaro of the United States District Court in Miami, said that BuzzFeed was protected in its publication of the dossier by the fair report privilege, which gives news organizations latitude in reporting on official government proceedings.
“We are thrilled by today’s outcome, and thank Judge Ungaro for taking the time to consider this case on the merits,” Ben Smith, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed News, said in a statement.
The suit was filed by Aleksej Gubarev, the head of XBT, a company based in Luxembourg, and Webzilla, a Florida tech company. Mr. Gubarev and his companies were named toward the end of the dossier, which was compiled by the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele during the 2016 campaign at the behest of Mr. Trump’s political rivals.
“First and foremost, nothing in today’s ruling by the court suggests in any way that the allegations concerning Mr. Gubarev, Webzilla, or XBT Holding were true,” Mr. Gubarev’s lead lawyer, Val Gurvits of Boston Law Group, said in a statement. “Instead, the court ruled on a narrow legal issue, finding that BuzzFeed had a privilege to publish the information even if it was false.”
Days before BuzzFeed’s posting of the 35-page document on Jan. 10, 2017, United States intelligence directors briefed President Barack Obama and the president-elect