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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Time Settles Suit by Former Moscow Reporter

LONDON -- Time magazine, settling a libel action, apologized Thursday for publishing in 1992 an accusation that former Washington Post Moscow correspondent Dusko Doder accepted money from the KGB secret police, and Time agreed to pay Doder roughly $270,000 plus costs.


The article, and the case, had become a cause c?l?bre among some prominent U.S. journalists who, in a letter to Time, had accused the magazine of engaging in "smear'' and "innuendo'' against Doder by publishing "rumors" without "a shred of proof to substantiate them." Time responded that its reporting had been "thorough and responsible."


Doder, now a freelance journalist, sued the magazine for libel in 1993 in Britain, where it has a significant circulation and where the libel law is considerably more helpful to plaintiffs than in the United States.


As the Post's Moscow bureau chief in the 1980s, Doder was renowned for his ability to ferret out information in a society far more secretive than it is now. The Time article, called "A Cold War Tale," detailed allegations by a Soviet defector that Doder accepted $1,000 from an agent for the KGB, the former Soviet Union's intelligence agency, and also implied that his many reporting coups in Moscow resulted from information fed to him by the KGB. Doder denied the allegation, which the FBI had earlier investigated and found to be without basis.


In 1993, in a rare departure, the head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service said he had found "no evidence" to support the accusation.


The defector who made the allegations, Vitaly Yurchenko, a KGB colonel, redefected to the Soviet Union after a brief stay in the United States in 1985.


A statement submitted to a court here Thursday by lawyers for Time and for Doder said the magazine accepts "without reservation that any disparagement of [Doder's] reputation and professmonal integrity is withdrawn."


Time said it has "no evidence, and did not mean to suggest, that the KGB exercised control" over Doder's reporting from Moscow, but that its article "was intended to be a critical examination of the difficulties in which even the very best journalists ... may find themselves operating in a dictatorial system."


Time expresses its "sincere regret and apologies to the plaintiff for the distress or embarrassment he has been caused," the statement said. Time promised to remove from the article, in both print and CD-ROM archival versions, the offending material about Doder.