The Donald Trump administration’s Justice Department has is now refusing to release “thousands of pages” of documents relating to the mysterious death of Mikhail Lesin, a former top media adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin. This comes five months after documents released under a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that Lesin suffered a broken hyoid bone in his neck, according to an exclusive report by Radio Free Europe.
A broken hyoid bone is believed to be consistent with homicide by strangulation. The same injury was suffered by former Trump friend Jeffrey Epstein, the multimillionaire convicted pedophile who died in a federal jail cell on August 10, as The Inquisitr reported. But Epstein’s death was ruled a suicide by hanging, according to a New York City medical examiner.
The death of Lesin, Putin’s former press minister who had a falling out with the Russian leader in 2012, was ruled to be the result of falling down repeatedly while drunk and alone in his hotel room, according to The Guardian. Lesin died on November 5, 2015, in a penthouse suite at the high-end DuPont Circle Hotel in Washington, D.C., and his death was officially ruled accidental. Russian state television originally reported that Lesin died of a heart attack.
As Putin’s top media official, Lesin led Putin’s successful effort to bring most of Russia’s major media outlets under the tight control of the Kremlin, according to a Guardian report. Lesin later founded RT, a global news service that is also owned by the Russian government and is widely seen as an international propaganda arm of Putin’s government.
EXCLUSIVE: Mikhail Lesin, a former Putin adviser who turned up dead in a Washington hotel in 2015, had a fracture in a bone in his neck, according to the city's medical examiner. It’s an injury “commonly associated with hanging or manual strangulation.” https://t.co/5rFrTpJOsE pic.twitter.com/imqM4o05Ee— Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (@RFERL) March 17, 2019
On Tuesday, BuzzFeed Senior Investigative Reporter Jason Leopold stated via his Twitter account that despite a two-year-old Freedom of Information lawsuit by BuzzFeed, the United States Justice Department continued to conceal at least 2,000 pages of documents that could shed light on Lesin’s death. This was despite how many of the pages that have been made public under FOIA have supposedly been heavily redacted.
According to Leopold’s Twitter reporting, the DoJ is citing a rarely used “exception” to the Freedom of Information Act to justify holding back many of those documents.
That exception, known as Exemption 7(F), allows withholding documents from FOIA requests if the release of those documents “could reasonably be expected to endanger life or physical safety” of “any individual,” according to information posted online by the Justice Department.
But with Lesin allegedly alone and heavily inebriated in his hotel suite when he died of trauma after falling down, it remains unclear whose life may be endangered by the documents being made public.
According to a BuzzFeed report from March of last year, the FBI is in possession of a secret report by former British spy Christopher Steele — author of the controversial Trump-Russia “dossier” — alleging that Lesin was “bludgeoned to death by thugs hired by an oligarch close to Putin.” Three other sources independently made the same allegation to the FBI, BuzzFeed reported.