Bill Browder’s complaint against Der Spiegel for questioning the story he used to push for anti-Russian sanctions has backfired, with Germany’s Press Council concluding his own position is far from being an “indisputable fact.”
“We cannot agree with your analysis, in which you criticize the allegations made by the author,” the German Press Council – a monitoring organization formed by major German publishers and journalistic associations – said in its response to Browder’s team, as it rejected the complaint against one of Germany’s major news media outlets.
The papers detailing the council’s decision were published on Twitter by Der Spiegel reporter Benjamin Bidder, who authored an investigative bombshell picking apart Browder’s story about his auditor Sergey Magnitsky’s death back in November 2019.
Der Presserat hat die Beschwerde von Bill Browder gegen den SPIEGEL übrigens abgewiesen, klar und eindeutig, und zwar bereits im Zuge einer Vorprüfung, wie ich jetzt erfahren habe. (1/5) #Magnitskyhttps://t.co/vgPXlKZGoUpic.twitter.com/vlWoNpAipu
The report provoked the British investor’s fury, and he swiftly filed a complaint after the news outlet dared to question the narrative that the vulture capitalist turned human rights campaigner had perpetuated for years as he relentlessly called for sanctions against Russia.
The US-born investor has always claimed that Magnitsky was a courageous whistleblower, who exposed corruption in Russia and was mercilessly killed by authorities out of revenge. The German weekly, however, concluded that this narrative was riddled with lies and said Western nations have fallen for a “convenient” story made up by a “fraudster.”
Browder lashed out at Der Spiegel, accusing it of “misrepresenting the facts” and even letting itself to be instrumentalized by Moscow. He told another German newspaper, Die Welt, that Der Spiegel outright “ignored” his evidence and asked him questions “put together by people close to the Russian government.”
The paper did not let itself be bullied, and published another lengthy piece containing further evidence supporting its conclusions. Now, the Press Council has said that Der Spiegel was fairly accurate in its assessments.
“The factual basis [of the report] at the time of the publication was sufficiently clear,” it said. The media watchdog further noted that it is the position of Browder’s team that “cannot be, to say the least, seen as a proven and undeniable fact.”
It also noted that Magnitsky cannot be seen as a “lawyer,” since he had no legal education. That was exactly what Der Spiegel said, and what Browder vehemently contested.
What’s the world come to when the world’s most influential ex-American-vulture-capitalist-turned-British-human-rights-crusader can’t crush free speech in every NATO country, only some NATO countries? A blow to all the London-DC human rights apparatchiks on Browder’s payroll. https://t.co/774OihXK8T
Magnitsky died in pre-trial detention in Moscow back in 2009, when he was investigated in relation to Browder’s own case. The investor was eventually found guilty of massive tax evasion and embezzlement in Russia and was twice sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison.
The 56-year-old, meanwhile, proclaimed himself Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “enemy number one” and used the death of his associate to lobby for the passing of the infamous Magnitsky Act in the US back in 2012. That legislation allowed the American authorities to impose sanctions against Russian officials over alleged human rights violations. Later, Browder also pushed for similar acts in Canada and the UK.
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