Internet Law

Did hacker help FBI get overseas intelligence? Court docs suggest answer may be yes, NY Times says

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While prosecuting computer hackers, the federal government also may itself have been utilizing hackers to help gather overseas intelligence information, court documents suggest.

Hector Xavier Monsegur, a cooperating witness known as Sabu in a federal case over Anonymous-related hacking, acted in 2012 to coordinate hundreds of intrusions on foreign websites, including the government servers of some foreign countries, reports the New York Times (reg. req.) in a lengthy article.

At least one hacker, directed by Monsegur, transfered what the newspaper describes as “vast amounts of data,” including bank records and log-in information, from government servers to an FBI-monitored server, the Times says. Its article relies on interviews with unidentified individuals the newspaper says were involved in the hack attacks, as well as documents related to a federal case in New York.

While it isn’t clear that the FBI asked Monsegur to coordinate the foreign hacking, documents suggest the Federal Bureau of Investigation may have gathered foreign intelligence information as a result of hack attacks, the newspaper says. Initially heavily redacted, the documents recently were resubmitted to the federal court with fewer redactions after the Times petitioned the court to have all of the redactions removed. A number of hearings in the federal case have not been open to the public, the newspaper says.

A spokeswoman for the FBI and Monsegur’s lawyer declined to comment when contacted by the Times.

A 2013 article on the Law & Disorder blog of Ars Technica said Monsegur’s sentencing in federal court in Manhattan has been postponed several times at the request of the prosecution.

The International Business Times says his sentencing was again delayed in January.

Additional and related coverage: “5 Claimed ‘Anonymous’ Affiliates Face US Hacking Case After Leader Took Plea in Secret Court Hearing” “Report: DEA unit funnels intelligence info to agents, who are told to recreate investigative trail” “ABA asks NSA to explain how intelligence agency deals with attorney-client privilege” “NSA tells ABA it is ‘firmly committed’ to rule of law and ‘bedrock’ attorney-client privilege”

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