"The jury acquitted our clients by a majority vote," defense lawyer Ruslan Khasanov said. "I am happy that justice has finally triumphed in Russia."
The acquitted were released from custody after the verdict was handed down. Prosecutors said they would appeal the decision
Prosecutors in the case claimed Kazbek Dukuzov, Musa Vakhayev and notary Fail Sadretdinov - all three ethnic Chechens - gunned down Klebnikov on July 9, 2004, on the orders of Chechen businessman Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, who wanted revenge after Khlebnikov's critical book "Conversations with a Barbarian" featured him as the central figure.
According to the prosecution, Nukhayev recruited a Chechen gang, including Vakhayev and Dukuzov - who were arrested by Belarusian police in Minsk on November 17 last year - and two other men, named as Magomed Dukuzov and Magomed Edilsultanov. They remain on the federal wanted list.
Klebnikov, a United States national, had worked for Forbes since 1989 and gained his reputation for investigating murky post-Soviet business dealings and corruption.