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U.S. Judge Dismisses Russian Billionaire's Defamation Case Against AP

Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman (right), and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska (combo photo)

A U.S. judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought against the Associated Press by a Russian billionaire with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle said in the 21-page ruling on October 17 that aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, who sued over a March story about his business relationship with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, had "cherry-picked sentences" that he wrongly claimed were defamatory and had not disputed "any material facts" presented in AP's story.

The judge also said Deripaska had failed to show AP's story was published with actual malice or with reckless disregard for the truth, a legal standard he had to meet for the case to move forward.

Instead, she said, Deripaska had complained that the story omitted what he considered crucial background.

"As the AP points out," Huvelle wrote, "this simply is not enough to make out a plausible case of actual malice."

The judge agreed with AP's characterization of Deripaska as a "limited-purpose public figure," whose wealth and interactions with the Russian government had made him the subject of media coverage for more than a decade.

Public figures have a higher legal standard to meet in arguing that statements about them are defamatory.

The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, which means Deripaska cannot bring it again.

The AP story revealed how Manafort, a decade before joining the Trump campaign, had proposed to Deripaska a confidential business strategy to support pro-Russian political parties and to influence politics, business dealings, and news coverage inside the United States, Europe, and former Soviet republics to benefit Putin's government.

Based on reporting by AP and TASS