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US court turns down Russia tycoon Deripaska’s libel suit against AP

October 18, 2017, 4:13 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

"The complaint is dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," the memorandum opinion reads

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Oleg Deripaska

Oleg Deripaska

© Sergey Savostyanov/TASS

WASHINGTON, October 18. /TASS/. A court in Washington on Tuesday upheld a motion by US news agency Associated Press to dismiss a libel lawsuit filed by Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska in mid-May.

The Russian billionaire’s lawyers filed a legal action for libel against the Associated Press on May 15 over a story about his alleged connections to a former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The court decision was explained in a document, which was available to a TASS correspondent in the court.

"The complaint is dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," reads the memorandum opinion, signed by United States District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle.

"Deripaska characterizes the article as accusing him of being ‘jointly engaged in efforts to advance the Kremlin’s anti-democratic agenda.’ But the article makes no such statement. <...> Deripaska has cherry-picked sentences and strung them together to give the AP’s article an effect it does not have when read in full," the document reads.

"Deripaska cannot argue that merely being associated with the interests of the Russian government is defamatory, even if it is false in the case of his contract with [Donald Trump campaign chairman, Paul] Manafort. Accordingly, the Court must dismiss Deripaska’s complaint with prejudice because the [AP] statements in his complaint do not qualify as false and defamatory statements under D.C. law," the document continues.

The president of United Company RUSAL, one of the world’s largest aluminum companies, filed the lawsuit after "the AP, by and through its writers Jeff Horwitz and Chad Day, published an article <...> that falsely accused Mr. Deripaska of involvement in criminal acts and other improprieties" on March 22, 2017. The AP refused Deripaska’s request for a public correction and retraction.

"The Article is structured to imply falsely that Mr. Deripaska’s commercial dealings from the period between 2005 and 2009 were somehow related to alleged criminal conduct and improprieties related to the campaign of then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and the 2016 U.S. Presidential election," according to the document.

The Russian businessman has on many occassions rejected the reporters' claims that Manafort had worked for him covertly for over 10 years to advance the interests of Russian leadership.

Manafort earlier confirmed in a statement for AP that he had worked for Deripaska in various countries but said this work was being unfairly cast as "inappropriate or nefarious" as part of a "smear campaign." "I worked with Oleg Deripaska almost a decade ago representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments," Manafort said. "My work for Mr. Deripaska did not involve representing Russia's political interests."

In March, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected information about the Kremlin’s alleged involvement in organizing contacts between Manafort and Deripaska. "This has nothing to do with the Kremlin," Peskov told journalists. "The Kremlin does not know anything about this.".

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