Saturday, 14 July 2018

No Evidence Indicted Russians Linked to Military Intelligence


No Evidence In Mueller's Indictment Of 12 Russians - Release Now May Sabotage Upcoming Summit

 


13 July, 2018


The Special counsel Robert Mueller issued an indictment (pdf, 29 pages) against 12 Russian people alleged to be officers or personal of the Russian Military Intelligence Service GRU. The people, claims the indictment, work for an operational (26165) and a technical (74455) subunit of the GRU.


A Grand Jury in Washington DC issued 11 charges which are described and annotated below. A short assessment follows.


The first charge is for a "Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States" by stealing emails and leaking them. The indictment claims that the GRU units sent spearfishing emails to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party organizations DNC and DCCC. They used these to get access to email boxes of John Podesta and other people. They are also accused of installing spyware (X-agent) on DNC computers and of exfiltrating emails and other data from them. The emails were distributed and published by the online personas DCLeaks, Guccifer II and later through Wikileaks. The indictment claims that DCLeaks and Guccifer II were impersonations by the GRU. Wikileaks, "organization 1" in the indictment, is implicated but so far not accused.


Note: There is a different Grand Jury for the long brewing case against Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Assange has denied that the emails he published came from a Russian source. Craig Murray, a former British ambassador, said that he received the emails on a trip to Washington DC and transported them to Wikileaks.


The indictment describes in some detail how various rented computers and several domain names were used to access the DNC and DCCC computers. The description is broadly plausible but there is little if any supporting evidence.


Charge 2 to 9 of the indictment are about "Aggravated Identity Theft" for using usernames and passwords for the personal email accounts of others.


Charge 10 is about a "Conspiracy to Launder Money". This was allegedly done "through a web of transaction structured to capitalize on the perceived anonymity of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin". It is alleged that the accused mined bitcoins, channeled these through dozens of accounts and transactions and then used them to rent servers, virtual private network access and domain names used in the operation.


Note: The indictment reinforces the author's hunch that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are creations and playgrounds of secret services just like Tor and other 'cool' internet 'privacy' stuff are. Its the very reason why one should avoid their use.


Charge 11 of the indictment is a "Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States". It claims that some of the accused hacked into state boards of elections and into U.S. companies providing elections related software.


Note: Other reporting found that the alleged attack resulted in no changes to the election results or other damage.


The Unites States will seek forfeiture of the valuables the accused may have within the United States as part of any sentencing of the accused.
Assessment:


  • It is not by chance that this indictment was published now,  a few days before the first summit between Donald Trump and the Russian President Vladimir Putin and shortly before the successful soccer world championship in Russia ends. The release intends to sabotage the talks.
  • The indictment describes a wide ranging operation but includes zero proof of anything it alleges.
  • Mueller likely hopes that the indictment will never come in front of a court. The alleged stuff would be extremely difficult to prove. Any decent lawyer would ask how the claimed information was gained and how much of it was based on illegal snooping by the NSA. Something the U.S. would hate to reveal.
  • It is unlikely that there will ever be a trial of these cases. The indicted persons are all Russians in Russia and none of them is likely to be stupid enough to follow an invitation to Las Vegas or to Disney World.
But who knows?


In February Mueller indicted the Russian Internet Research Agency, a clickbait farm run for commercial purpose, of influencing the U.S. election. The expectation then like now was that there would never be trial. In a surprise move one of the accused Russian companies, Concord Management, took up the challenge and demanded discovery. Mueller then tried to delay the hand over of evidence (which he probably does not have.) A judge rejected the attempt. The case is pending.


The indictment, which may well be made up and is unlikely to ever be tested in court, will reinforce the "Russia is an enemy" campaign which was launched way before the 2016 election. It will reinforce the believe of some Democrats that Russia, and not the selection of a disgusting candidate, cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.


The detente with Russia which U.S. president Donald Trump tries to achieve will now be more difficult to implement and to sustain.

Russian FM: No Evidence Indicted Russians Linked to Military Intelligence

13 July, 2018

The Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement on Friday saying there is no evidence that the 12 people indicted by the office of US special counsel Robert Mueller are linked to Russian military intelligence.

The statement, released by the ministry's Information and Press Department, claims the goal of the Friday indictments is to damage the "positive mood" of the upcoming Helsinki meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump, scheduled for July 16.
The new indictments are a "shameful farce," Moscow said. "Obviously, the goal of this 'mud-slinging' is to spoil the atmosphere before the Russian-American summit."
US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stated in an early Friday news conference that 12 Russian intelligence officers had been indicted for their alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

"The indictment charges 12 Russian military officers by name," Rosenstein told reporters. "According to the allegations in the indictment, the defendants work for two units of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff known as the GRU."
Charges include creating fake online accounts, conspiring to hack organizations involved in administering elections, hacking the Democratic National Committee and then releasing documents to interfere in the US election and using malware to steal passwords and other information. Rosenstein went on to note that the accused used DC Leaks and Guccifer 2.0 to extract and disseminate the information under the direction of GRU.
Since the beginning of the Mueller investigation into alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election and allegations of collusion between Donald Trump's campaign and Moscow, some 32 people have been indicted. Among them are former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and short-lived Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. However, the majority of the charges relate to financial crimes and coverups, most occurring prior to the election, rather than having anything to do with the 2016 presidential campaign.

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