Lawyers for the Russian tech executive who was named in the infamous Steele dossier are asking a federal judge to force BuzzFeed to reveal its source. Their argument: BuzzFeed isn’t a real news organization.
In the dodgy dossier that is named ‘Aleksej Gubarev’, the CEO of the web hosting company Mr. Gubarev, denies that he or either of his companies — XBT Holdings and Webzilla — had any part to play in a hack attack on the Democratic Party and has filed suit to prove it.
BuzzFeed’s latest attempt to defend its actions in publishing the unverified dossier earlier this year has prompted them to subpoena the Democratic National Committee.
In addition to the DNC, Buzzfeed has also subpoenaed the cyber security firm ‘Crowd Strike‘, the company which supposedly investigated the breach at Democratic Party headquarters.
According to foreignpolicy.com who was able to review a copy of the subpoena, BuzzFeed is seeking “technical information and data obtained during the investigation into the Democratic Hack, including all host-based and network-based artifacts.”
It is also seeking “non-public” analysis and reports into the DNC hack, and copies of the malware that was allegedly used in the attack.
The Hill reports:
BuzzFeed subpoenaed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Friday in an attempt to pressure the organization to turn over information in connection with an ongoing libel suit, Foreign Policy reported Monday.
Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian technology executive, sued the media company for libel after it decided to make public a dossier of memos authored by the former British spy Christopher Steele, who was hired to conduct opposition research for Fusion GPS, a private research firm. Steele’s dossier, which circulated among news organizations in Washington throughout the fall of 2016 before being published by BuzzFeed, alleged ties between Donald Trump‘s campaign and Russia.
Gubarev has strongly denied the allegations made in the dossier, which claim that his companies helped the Russian government hack the DNC computer systems during last year’s presidential campaign.
As part of its defense strategy, BuzzFeed is trying to verify the dossier’s allegations, according to the report.
“One prong of our strategy is to prove that the dossier was being acted on and circulated by officials at the highest levels of government; but we would be remiss if we didn’t use every tool to determine the truth of what actually happened — and whether, as the dossier claims, Mr. Gubarev’s servers were behind the DNC hack,” BuzzFeed News spokesman Matt Mittenthal told Foreign Policy.
One of Gubarev’s lawyers suggested the subpoena is a moot point, saying it seeks information that doesn’t matter in their case: whether Gubarev and his companies were involved in the DNC cyber attack.
“BuzzFeed’s subpoena doesn’t amount to much,” Evan Fray-Witzer, a lawyer for Gubarev, told Foreign Policy. “It seeks irrelevant information because it’s not asking the question that actually matters: Was Gubarev, XBT, or Webzilla responsible for the hack? The answer to that question is ‘No.’ ”
BuzzFeed is requesting “technical information and data obtained during the investigation into the Democratic Hack, including all host-based and network-based artifacts,” according to a copy of the subpoena obtained and reviewed by Foreign Policy.
It is also reportedly requesting information about the type of malware used in the hack as well as “non-public” analysis and other related reports.
The DNC did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the subpoena.
Click this link to read the 35 page dossier