Alleged hackers stole evidence to hamper Mueller probe

Self-proclaimed Russian hackers have stolen all evidence in an attempt to discredit the investigation of an organization that is charged with funding a Russian propaganda campaign to interfere with the presidential elections that took place in the United States in the year of 2016.

Prosecutors who are handling the probe said in a recent court filing that happened at Washington on Wednesday that a Twitter account called @HackingRedstone came online on October 22 to claim that it has hacked some of the evidence that belongs to the case. The document of the court quoted the twitter post saying “We’ve got access to the Special Counsel Mueller’s probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case,”

The prosecutors went on to add that the vast majority of the files and information released by the hacker’s Twitter account were actually “junk material that has nothing to do with the case” and they were included along with rest of the original files from the investigation to hamper its investigation.

In February 2018, Mueller formally accused 13 Russians and three Russian companies with allegations of tampering election in 2016 to support the then-Republican candidate Donald Trump. Later Donald Trump defeated his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton to become the US’s 45th president.

Overall a total of 34 people have pleaded guilty and have been indicted or else swept up in the broader inquiry. The company that was named in the charge sheet included the Internet Research Agency which is known for its social media trolling, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, which is reported to have provided the financial backing for executing the operation, and Concord Catering.

The Twitter account was linked to an online file-sharing portal which it claimed to contain the Mueller’s documents about the “IRA and Russian collusion.”

The prosecutors wrote that “The data that appeared online was altered and disseminated as part of a disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the US political system,”

On the very same day, a journalist reportedly contacted Mueller’s office to report about receiving a Twitter message from an unknown person who claimed that they have hacked into a Russian legal firm which had received the evidence from Concord’s US-based law firm Reed Smith LLP. The illegal activity outlined by prosecutors to illustrate the concerns of US intelligence officials about the continued efforts of Russia to interfere in US politics.

The Prosecutor said, however, the FBI has found no evidence that US servers were hacked, and the Internet protocol address of the account that was used to publish the materials were from Russia. The management of Concord is currently being prosecuted in the Mueller’s investigation of US allegations that Moscow has hampered in the US democratic process to help Donald Trump win.

Mueller is also reportedly investigating whether there was an agreement between Moscow officials and members of the Trump campaign. The Kremlin denies any election interference and Trump denies there was any collusion, calling the inquiry a political witch-hunt.

A recent filing in the US District Court for the District of Columbia is the latest in a dispute between Concord’s US lawyers and prosecutors over how the defense team could have shared highly sensitive evidence with Concord’s corporate officers in Russian.

One of amongst these officers is businessman Evgeny Prigozhin who is an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is also known in Russia as “Putin’s cook.” He has been hit with US charges over Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and is sanctioned alongside his company in the indictment brought by Mueller. In the charge sheet, the prosecutors said that Russian defendants had adopted false online identities to push divisive messages, traveled to the US to gather intelligence and has conducted political rallies while posing as US citizens. Prigozhin was also included as one of the 13 people indicted. Prigozhin is not summoned to appear in a US court as Russia does not have an extradition treaty with the US, but his company Concord did hire US lawyers, to fight the charges.

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