13:00 GMT16 January 2021
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    Sputnik and RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan commented on the decision of the Newsweek online magazine to delete stories about alleged ties between US President Donald Trump, Russia and Sputnik News Agency, noting that Newsweek feared possible lawsuits.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Friday, former Sputnik editor Bill Moran said that his dispute with the Newsweek was settled amicably and the magazine removed two false stories of journalist Kurt Eichenwald, who argued that Trump conspired with Russia, and based his allegations on the same mistake Moran made.

    "Fearing court proceedings, Newsweek deleted false stories about us. We will further explain to various 'newsweeks,' that it is not good to lie," Simonyan told Sputnik.

    Moran did not wish to comment on the terms of his agreement with Newsweek, saying the parties had decided to keep them confidential.

    The mix-up goes back to last October when Democratic email leaks were making rounds on the Internet. Moran, at that time the only editor in Sputnik’s Washington bureau, discovered excerpts from the Hillary Clinton team's correspondence published by WikiLeaks. He thought the source to be trustworthy and cited Clinton's aide Sidney Blumenthal allegedly admitting Democratic nominee's responsibility for the death of US citizens in Libya's Benghazi.

    He soon realized that Blumenthal was not speaking for himself but rather simply discussing a Newsweek article by Eichenwald. The Sputnik editor decided to delete the article altogether after it had been online for mere 19 minutes and got 1,000 views. Trump later also cited what he thought to be Blumenthal on a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

    Newsweek's Eichenwald noticed Trump's mistaken story attribution and decided to dig deep to find the roots of the mistake. He ignored WikiLeaks tweet but paid attention to the deleted article by Sputnik.

    The Bellingcat blogger group later reconstructed the sequence of events, and proved that Trump was not quoting Sputnik but brought up the same ill-fated tweet.

    After Eichenwald’s allegations were debunked, he tried to hush up the mistake offering the young Sputnik journalist a position in the magazine and threatening to destroy his career otherwise.

    Moran left Sputnik after the scandal. A recent Georgetown law graduate, he decided to pursue legal action against Newsweek and despite facing a team of high-paid lawyers, managed to bring the online publication to a settlement.


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