BuzzFeed is in the midst of a defamation lawsuit brought by Aleksej Gubarev, XBT Holdings S.A., and Webzilla, Inc, claiming that the online publication published false and damaging statements against them in the notorious unconfirmed dossier about President Donald Trump‘s ties to Russia.The lawsuit claims that such statements are false and harmful to the plaintiffs, who are demanding that BuzzFeed reveal their source for the dossier. On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge John J. O’Sullivan ruled that BuzzFeed does not have to give up their source’s identity.
Citing Florida’s shield law, Judge O’Sullivan said that news publications are only required to reveal their sources under certain conditions, and that Gubarev’s request didn’t fit the bill. The judge stated that the shield law protects publications from giving up sources when plaintiffs have not exhausted all other means of getting the information, and that there’s more that Gubarev could still do.
The plaintiffs also tried to claim that the shield law doesn’t apply to online publications, but Judge O’Sullivan didn’t go for that argument.
The infamous dossier included statements saying that Gubarev and his company engaged in cyberattacks against Democratic Party leaders, in connection with Russia. Gubarev said in a previous court filing, “Not a single portion of this statement (as it applies to Mr. Gubarev, XBT, or Webzilla) has any basis in fact whatsoever.”