Friday, February 17, 2017

Businessman Threatens to Sue Atlantic Council Over Russia Claims

As if think tanks didn't already have enough to worry about, now there is a new nuisance to agonize over: being sued for defamation.

This is from The Guardian:
Arron Banks, a Ukip donor, has threatened to sue a Washington-based thinktank and three Conservative MPs over claims he is a “pro-Russian actor”. The businessman, who helped bankroll the Brexit campaign, issued a press release saying he was taking legal proceedings against Atlantic Council over its report entitled The Kremlin’s Trojan Horses.
The report mentions him under a heading of “pro-Russian actors” along with figures such as the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and Ukip’s former leader Nigel Farage. A spokesman for Banks would not name the three Tory MPs who have also been issued with proceedings.
A spokesman for Atlantic Council said: “We are unaware of any pending legal complaint from Mr Banks. In keeping with our policy on intellectual independence, Atlantic Council reports represent the views of their authors, and not the Atlantic Council as an institution. That said, the Atlantic Council stands by this heavily sourced report.”

The above-mentioned report, The Kremlin's Trojan Horses: Russian Influence in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, can be found here.  It was written by Alina Polyakova, Marlene Laruelle, Stefan Meister, and Neil Barnett.

Dr. Polyakova, Deputy Director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council, appears to be the only one of the four authors who has a direct relationship to the Atlantic Council.  Dr. Laruelle is affiliated with the George Washington University (GWU); Dr. Meister is affiliated with the German Council on Foreign Relations; and Mr. Barnett is affiliated with Istok Associates Ltd.

Think Tank Watch will watch this closely, but the only definitive thing we can say for now is that the 27-page think tank report is heavily sourced, with 89 footnotes.