Tolga Akmen Agence-France-Presse Christopher Steele, upon his arrival at the High Court of London, during proceedings brought against him by Russian businessman Alexei Gubarev.
His controversial report on Donald Trump's supposed links with Russia, notably evoking without proof a video with prostitutes, triggered a political storm in 2017: a former British spy faces justice in London on Monday.< /p>
The former American president, again a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election, is suing Christopher Steele, 59, and the private intelligence company Orbis Business Intelligence, founded by this former agent of the British intelligence services, name of the data protection law.
Commissioned by the Democratic camp during the campaign for the 2016 US election, Christopher Steele compiled raw, unverified intelligence linking Donald Trump to Russia.
Some of his discoveries fueled the investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller who, after two years on this matter, concluded that there was evidence of Russian interference in the electoral campaign, but not of collusion with Russia. Donald Trump's team.
“President Trump is opening this case because he seeks to assert his legal rights (…) that the statements contained in these memoranda are false,” said his lawyer Hugh Tomlinson at the hearing at the High Court in London.
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He takes particular aim at two notes in this report which describe the alleged orgies in which Donald Trump allegedly participated in St. Petersburg, as well as 'others with prostitutes in Moscow.
If the former American president, who was not present at the hearing, recognizes that the consulting company Orbis is not responsible for the publication of the report, he believes that it is the company which “processed” the data contained in the report.
For their part, lawyers for the Orbis company requested that the lawsuits launched with the sole aim of “harassing Orbis and Mr. Steele and maintaining old grievances” be dropped. .
According to them, their clients “are not responsible” for possible damage to Donald Trump's reputation caused by the publication of the report without their knowledge.
The hearings are scheduled to continue on Tuesday.
Published by the Buzzfeed website ten days before Donald Trump's inauguration in January 2017, this report made numerous compromising allegations about the former US president, including the existence – never confirmed – of a sexual video involving prostitutes and filmed during Donald Trump's trip to Moscow.
< p>It also referred to exchanges of information for almost a decade with the Kremlin and suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “supported and directed” an operation to “raise” Donald Trump's candidacy for the US presidential election since “in least five years.”
Christopher Steele had previously passed it on to the FBI, who relied on certain passages to put people close to the Republican billionaire under surveillance.
Donald Trump denounced this report as false, while an investigation by the daily The New York Times showed that no evidence supported the assertions it contained.
In October 2020, a defamation complaint from Russian businessman Alexei Goubarev, cited in the same report, was rejected by the British courts, which ruled that if the references to Mr. Goubarev were indeed defamatory, it was not 'could not prove that the ex-spy was responsible for their publication.
In his testimony given at the proceedings, Christopher Steele then affirmed that he had never intended to disclose the information in question and that if he had been aware, he would have done “everything in (his) power to prevent it.”
In November 2021, Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst and former consultant to the renowned think tank Brooking Institutions, was charged with perjury for lying to FBI investigators about sources provided to Christopher Steele for his report.