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Svetlana Lokhova, defamed by the Russiagate narrative, appeals case in higher U.S. court

Among those named in the suit are NBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal

Updated: June 26, 2020 - 12:11pm

As the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn winds down, a woman who was rumored to be his Russian mistress is suing the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, NBC and a man named Stefan Halper for defamation.

The woman, Svetlana Lokhova, initially filed the suit last year in a Virginia federal court alleging that Halper, who served as a "confidential human source" during the federal government's Crossfire Hurricane probe, leaked false statements to the media about her and Flynn in an effort to smear the former Army lieutenant general's reputation and fuel the Russian-collusion narrative. 

The complaint alleged that Halper "intentionally misrepresented that Lokhova was a ‘Russian spy’ who ‘had an affair with General Flynn on the orders of Russian intelligence’ and ‘compromised General Flynn.’ ”

Lokhova met Flynn in 2014 at a Cambridge University dinner, where she was completing her doctorate degree. This encounter apparently led to the suggestion by the British press of an affair between the two that later trickled into U.S. news outlets. 

The earliest published articles about Lokhova were released more than one year before she filed her suit in a U.S. court, a delay that caused the court to dismiss the complaint due to the one-year statute of limitations. The court also found that Lokhova's complaint provided inadequate evidence that Halper was the source of the defamatory rumors.

Lokhova's attorney has now filed a brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, emphasizing the harm that has been inflicted upon his client.

The federal appellate court will likely focus primarily on questions surrounding the statute of limitations under Virginia defamation law.

Though they may consider information that was recently revealed suggesting that Halper may have told Christopher Steele, author of the Trump dossier used in the federal probe, that Lokhova and Flynn were having an affair. A second recent declassification suggests that the FBI received word of the same false rumor. 

Lokhova is currently publishing a book about Halper's role in the Russia-collusion scandal. Should Halper attempt to quell Lokhova's effort via the legal system, he would open himself up to the court's discovery process, which he is trying to avoid as it pertains to the appellate court case.