Park County Resident, Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Sues ‘The Intercept’ for Defamation
Erik Prince, a Park County resident and the founder of private military company Blackwater Worldwide, has sued online news organization The Intercept for allegedly defaming him saying he tried offered military services to to a Russian mercenary firm in two African conflicts, according to his complaint filed in Wyoming U.S. District Court.
"The central premise of the Defendants' Story is the false claim that Mr. Prince 'met earlier this year with a top official of Russia's Wagner Group and offered his mercenary forces to support the firm's operations in Libya and Mozambique,'" according to the complaint filed Tuesday.
Late Tuesday, The Intercept said it would not comment until after it had reviewed the complaint.
The story published April 13, "Erik Prince Offered Lethal Services to Sanctioned Russian Mercenary Firm Wagner," also accuses him of illegal conduct because the alleged requests violated the sanctions imposed on Wager by the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control and essentially accuses him of being a traitor.
The authors, Matthew Cole and Alex Emmons, cited several sources, but none was willing to go on the record, according to the complaint.
The Intercept contacted Prince's attorneys three days before the story ran, the attorneys responded that Prince never met with the Wagner representative, Cole did not respond, and ran the story anyway. The story was picked up by other publications. As of Tuesday, The Intercept had not corrected the story, according to the complaint.
Prince claims the story has harmed his reputation, income and business, and relationships with financial institutions and the media.
Prince is suing for compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relieve, attorneys' fees, and other other damages.
Prince is the brother of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and both are heirs to the Prince Machine Company fortune. He was a Navy SEAL, founded Blackwater Worldwide and set up a training camp in North Carolina.
In 2010, Prince sold Blackwater, now known as Academi, had faced ethical and legal problems because of its private contracting work for the military. In 2007, the company's employees killed 17 civilians in Baghdad.
In October 2017, The New York Times reported that Prince was considering running against Sen. John Barrasso in the 2018 Republican primary.