In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro cited the “fair report privilege” in siding with the news outlet against the plaintiff, Cyprus-based CEO Aleksej Gubarev.
Gubarev had sued BuzzFeed in February for defamation because he was named in the dossier the outlet published in January 2017, which included unverified allegations about President Donald Trump’s ties with Russia. Other major news organizations at the time hadn’t published the unsubstantiated claims.
Facing criticism for publishing the unverified dossier, BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, said that the website wanted to be transparent and “share what we have with our readers.”
On Wednesday, Smith said the judge’s ruling had “vindicated” the outlet’s decision to publish.
“When we published the Steele dossier in 2017, we were met with outrage from many corners,” Smith said in a statement Wednesday, noting that Trump had called the dossier “fake news.”
“Today, almost two years later a federal judge has vindicated our decision.”
In early 2017, Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen also sued BuzzFeed for defamation over the dossier, but months later, dropped the suit as he came under investigation by the FBI.
Read the judge’s ruling here: