Russian Federation probe docs were leaked, altered to discredit investigation

Cheryl Sanders
January 31, 2019

Evidence given by prosecutors to the defense team in the ongoing prosecution of a Russian troll farm accused of meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election was altered and posted online as part of a "disinformation campaign" to discredit the Russia probe, special counsel Robert Mueller's team alleged in a court filing Wednesday.

The filing - and a classified addendum shared only with the court - is the latest of several pointed exchanges between prosecutors and the defense team from Reed Smith representing Concord. In February 2018, Concord, Prigozhin, and other Russian individuals were indicted, accused of disrupting the 2016 election.

Concord is controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy businessman known as "Putin's chef" for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The data that appeared online was "altered and disseminated as part of a disinformation campaign aimed (apparently) at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the USA political system", prosecutors wrote.

The allegation comes amid an ongoing dispute in the case against Concord Management over whether the defense team can ferry "sensitive material" obtained during discovery to its client in Russian Federation.

Concord was among 13 Russian entities or people to be charged in connection with the investigation.

Under previous orders from the judge, sensitive material in the case is kept on its own system that is not connected to the internet. You can view all the files Mueller had about the [Internet Research Agency] and Russian collusion.

"Enjoy the reading!" the court filing states that a tweet read. A tweet from the account @HackingRedstone included a link to a webpage that contained file folder names that matched the materials that Mueller had produced.

FBI investigators had found no evidence that government servers holding the data had been hacked, according to Mueller's team, pointing instead to a leak on the Russian side. The account has been suspended.

Prigozhin, the owner of Concord Management, also ran the Internet Research Agency, the infamous St Petersburg troll farm that was indicted for spreading fake news and social discord in the US during the 2016 election. The filing also said that defense lawyers told the Mueller team that the vendor it was using reported no unauthorized access to the nonsensitive files.

But the USA government and Mueller's office hadn't been hacked.

Robert Mueller speaks during a farewell ceremony at the Department of Justice, in Washington, D.C., on August 1, 2013.

Dubelier has argued that it is critical to Concord's defense strategy to include Prigozhin, invoking the constitutional right to a fair trial.

The illicit activity outlined by prosecutors illustrates the concerns of United States intelligence officials about continuing efforts by Russian Federation to interfere in U.S. politics. The evidence also allegedly identifies "sources, methods, and techniques used to identify the foreign actors behind these interference operations".

Friedrich, who said past year she would reconsider the question of sharing evidence with Prigozhin when the case was further along, scheduled a hearing on that issue for March 7.

Mueller's team has been investigating since May 2017 whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

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