Time magazine admits it libeled reporter It must pay him $260,000 for linking him to KGB

August 02, 1996|By SPECIAL TO THE SUN

LONDON — An article and headline in The Sun yesterday erroneously said that Time magazine had admitted to libeling reporter Dusko Doder and paid him libel damages. There was no verdict in the lawsuit. Time agreed to make a payment to settle the lawsuit and to publish a statement withdrawing any disparagement of Doder's work.

The Sun regrets the errors.

LONDON -- After reporting in 1992 that he might have accepted money from the KGB, Time magazine apologized yesterday in a London court to Dusko Doder, a former Moscow bureau chief of the Washington Post, and agreed to pay him more than $260,000 in libel damages and publish a retraction.

Time's lawyers conceded in court that the magazine had no evidence suggesting that the KGB "exercised control" over Doder's reporting. In its issue of Dec. 28, 1992, it published an allegation by a Soviet defector that Doder had accepted $1,000 from the Soviet intelligence agency.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

The allegation was attributed to Vitaly Yurchenko, a KGB colonel who later defected back to Moscow. His claim triggered an FBI investigation that found no evidence that Doder was working with the Soviet intelligence service. Doder also was defended by editors at the Post, who called the magazine story "inaccurate and misleading."

"Time magazine had done wrong," Doder said in a statement. "They have now admitted their error."

As part of the libel case settlement, Time's lawyers said in a statement that the magazine article had been intended as "a critical examination of the difficulties which even the very best journalists may find themselves operating in a dictatorial system."

They said the criticism of Doder "is unreservedly withdrawn."

Doder was head of the Post's Moscow bureau from 1981 to 1985. One of his biggest scoops was his report published on Feb. 10, 1984, that Soviet leader Yuri Andropov had died. A State Department official told the newspaper that the story was untrue. The next day, the Soviet government announced Andropov's death.

After his work in Moscow and writing a book, Doder covered national security issues for the Post but resigned in 1987 to take a reporting job in China for U.S. News & World Report. Since 1989, he has worked as a free-lance journalist, reporting from Yugoslavia for The Sun and other newspapers.

Time also agreed to pay about $650,000 of Doder's legal costs and to withdraw a CD-ROM that contained the article.

Pub Date: 8/02/96

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