Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, which is one of the world’s preeminent private military contractors, is suing progressive news outlet “The Intercept” over a report from last month that claimed that he offered lethal services to a sanctioned Russian mercenary firm.
The Intercept claimed on April 13 that Prince had attempted to provide military forces to Russia’s Wagner Group — a semi-private military contractor the Russian government uses to advance its interests while being able to maintain plausible deniability for the group’s actions — to “support the firm’s operations in Libya and Mozambique, according to two people familiar with Prince’s offer.” The Intercept later claimed that “any business relationship between Prince and Wagner would, in effect, make the influential Trump administration adviser a subcontractor to the Russian military.”
Prince attorney Matthew L. Schwartz told RealClearInvestigations that Prince had “no choice but to defend himself” after having been repeatedly “smeared” by numerous publications including The Intercept, which was the first to report the now-disputed claims.
Schwartz continued, “The Intercept accused Erik Prince of being a criminal and a traitor based on dishonest and biased anonymous sources that it made no effort to corroborate.”
Schwartz confirmed that the complaint, a copy of which was provided in advance to RealClearInvestigations, was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the state where Prince “conducts the majority of his business.” Seeking a jury trial, the complaint names The Intercept; the publication’s corporate parent, First Look Media, founded by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar; and the reporters who wrote the story, Alex Emmons and Matthew Cole.
RealClearInvestigation’s highlighted that many of the claims made against Prince in The Intercept’s report were thinly sourced and lacked critical details to substantiate the claims it was alleging against Prince.
Prince’s lawsuit alleges that The Intercept intentionally made “defamatory statements … as part of a long scheme by the Defendants to knowingly publish false, misleading, and defamatory statements about Mr. Prince in order to further the Defendants’ political agenda, boost The Intercept’s readership, and reap the associated financial gains, including the continued viability of the publication.”
Both RealClearInvestigations and The Wrap reported that The Intercept did not respond to requests for comment on its report.
The Wrap noted that “Blackwater, best known for its work during the war in Iraq” has “changed its name to XE in 2009 and changed its name again in 2012 to Academi.” The Wrap added, “Prince has largely been uninvolved with the company since 2012.”
Prince is a former Navy SEAL who has turned into a highly successful businessman that has a deep network of influential contacts. Prince is also a big supporter of President Donald Trump, a conservative, and the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
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