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‘Spygate’ Professor Claims Immunity Against Russian-British Academic’s Lawsuit

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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  • Stefan Halper, who allegedly met with Trump aides as an FBI informant, asked a federal judge to dismiss a Russian-British academic’s defamation lawsuit against him.
  • Halper said he has immunity from the lawsuit, which Svetlana Lokhova filed against him in May.
  • Halper does not admit to being an FBI informant, though he argues government agents have qualified immunity against lawsuits.

Stefan Halper, the former Cambridge University professor who allegedly met with several Trump campaign aides as an FBI informant, asked a federal judge Tuesday to dismiss a defamation lawsuit that a Russian-British academic filed against him in May, saying government agents have immunity from litigation.

Halper does not confirm he was an FBI informant in his motion to dismiss. He also does not admit to being a source for articles about Svetlana Lokhova, the Russia-born academic. But he argues that if he were an FBI informant, he would have immunity afforded to other government agents. (RELATED: Stefan Halper Is Sued By Cambridge Academic Linked To Flynn)

“Private individuals who participate in FBI investigations are subject to the federal common law qualified immunity applicable to government agents,” wrote Halper’s lawyers, Terrance Reid, Robert Moir, and Robert Luskin.

“This immunity justifies dismissal here.”

Lokhova, who studied Soviet-era espionage at Cambridge, sued Halper and several news outlets May 23, accusing all of defaming her over contacts she had in February 2014 with Michael Flynn, who then served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Lokhova alleged Halper planted false rumors that she and Flynn began an improper relationship during the 2014 event, which was hosted by the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar. Halper was a co-convener of the seminar, which hosts current and former Western intelligence operatives.

Sir Richard Dearlove (L), Christopher Andrew (center), then-DIA Director Michael Flynn (R), at Cambridge University, Feb. 28, 2014. (Photo courtesy Svetlana Lokhova)

Sir Christopher Andrew, who was Lokhova’s mentor at Cambridge and a close Halper associate, was the author of the first innuendo-laced article about Lokhova and Flynn. Published days after Flynn was fired as national security adviser, Andrew wrote of the retired lieutenant general’s visit to Cambridge, where he allegedly struck up a quick friendship with a Russia-born woman later identified as Lokhova.

That essay was the basis for follow-up reports The Wall Street Journal and Guardian published in March 2017. Neither of the stories explicitly accused Lokhova of being a Russian spy or of trying to seduce Flynn. Instead, they reported that the 2014 encounter had been disclosed to U.S. intelligence authorities and that Flynn had failed to disclose his contact with Lokhova to DIA.

The tipster who warned U.S. officials about Flynn and Lokhova has not been identified.

The New York Times and Washington Post identified Halper as a longtime FBI informant in articles published in May and June 2018. The NYT also reported that Halper has been a CIA source. Halper was once son-in-law to Ray Cline, a top CIA official in the 1960s and 1970s. Halper also worked closely during the 1980 Ronald Reagan campaign with a team of former CIA officers.

The government has not confirmed that Halper worked as an informant for the FBI or any other government agency during the Trump-Russia probe.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reported March 25, 2018, that Halper established contact in 2016 with three Trump campaign aides: Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: A London Meeting Before The Election Aroused George Papadopoulos’s Suspicions)

Halper and Lokhova worked at Cambridge together, but Lokhova said they rarely interacted. Lokhova said in her lawsuit that Halper was rude to her during their limited interactions, and that he spread rumors behind her back that she might be a Russian agent.

In his dismissal motion on Tuesday, Halper said that Lokhova had not provided proof he was the source for allegations in the media that Lokhova had illicit contacts with Flynn or that she was a Russian spy.

Lokhova has told the DCNF that after Halper was identified in the media as a longtime FBI informant, she grew suspicious about an invitation she received to a dinner at the professor’s home in February 2016.

Andrew, Lokhova’s mentor and Halper’s friend, passed Lokhova the invitation to have dinner with Halper and his wife. Lokhova says that in retrospect, she found the invitation curious because of her fragile relationship with Halper.

Lokhova now suspects Halper wanted to obtain more information about her contacts with Flynn, who at the time of the invitation was poised to join the Trump campaign.

Flynn was one of four Trump campaign aides, along with Page and Papadopoulos, the FBI put under investigation in July 2016. The government has still not said what sparked the interest in Flynn, but it is possible investigators were interested in a visit he made to Moscow in December 2015. RT, the Russia-controlled media company, paid Flynn $45,000 to attend its annual gala.

Halper’s first known contact with the Trump campaign was with Carter Page at an election-themed event held at Cambridge on July 10, 2016. The pair remained in close contact until September 2017, the same month the FBI ended its electronic surveillance of Page. Halper reached out to Papadopoulos on Sept. 2, 2016, with an offer of $3,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to London to discuss writing an academic paper.

Papadopoulos made the trip and met with Halper and his purported assistant, Azra Turk. Turk is an alias used by a government investigator, The NYT reported May 1.

Stefan Halper Motion to Dismiss Lokhova Lawsuit by Chuck Ross on Scribd

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