Former British spy Christopher Steele confessed that he used an unverified report submitted to a CNN website, where “random individuals” can post any information they want, for his anti-Trump dossier.
The former British spy confessed during a deposition in a case involving Russian entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev, who says that his companies Webzilla and XBT Holdings were defamed by Christopher Steele after the dossier was published by BuzzFeed.
During the deposition, Steele was asked how he actually verified allegations about Gubarev’s companies – Webzilla and XBT Holdings – and if he found “anything of relevance concerning Webzilla,” according to the newly released transcripts of the deposition.
“We did. It was an article I have got here which was posted on July 28, 2009, on something called CNN iReport,” Steele said.
But CNN iReport, which appears to be no longer active — though archives remain accessible online — states that it’s a “user-generated site” and warns that “the stories submitted by users are not edited, fact-checked or screened before they post.”
Even the banner for CNN’s iReport included the slogan “Unedited. Unfiltered. News.”
When asked whether the former British spy understood how the website actually worked, he confessed that “I do not have any particular knowledge of that” and noted he didn’t understand at the time that the site has “no connection to any CNN reporters.”
“Do you understand that CNN iReports are or were nothing more than any random individuals’ assertions on the Internet?” an examiner asked Steele.
He replied: “No, I obviously presume that if it is on a CNN site that it may has [sic] some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site.”
According to the archive copy of the iReports site, the website specifically states that none of the users submitting content should be described as working for CNN.
The site’s FAQ section reads:
“Being an iReport.com user and creating and uploading content to iReport.com does not mean that you work for CNN, and you should never represent yourself as working for CNN.”
Steele’s dossier alleged that Gubarev’s companies “used botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘alerting operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership” and Gubarev himself played a “significant” part in the operation while “under duress” from the Russian security agency FSB.
Christopher Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence (his company) were hired by Glenn Simpson’s U.S. based company, Fusion GPS, to work on the dossier and promote its contents to journalists. Fusion GPS received $1.8 million via the law firm Perkins Coie, with the money paid by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Furthermore, the FBI extensively relied on the illegitimate dossier in its warrant applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court in seeking to surveil Carter Page.
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