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Three US intel operatives guilty of helping UAE hack cell phones

Three former U.S. intelligence professionals pleaded guilty to reduced charges relating to helping the United Arab Emirates hack cell phones to spy on journalists and political opponents, the Washington Post reports.

In a plea agreement with the US Justice Department, Marc Baier, 49, Ryan Adams, 34, and Daniel Gericke, 40, pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate U.S. military export control and computer fraud law.  They entered a three-year prosecution deferment, surrendered $1.7 million and agreed to limit their future employment.  They also lost their security clearances, which is a significant advantage in the job market for former intel community employees.

“This agreement is the first-of-its-kind resolution of an investigation into two distinct types of criminal activity: providing unlicensed export-controlled defense services in support of computer network exploitation, and a commercial company creating, supporting and operating systems specifically designed to allow others to access data without authorization from computers worldwide, including in the United States,” said Mark J. Lesko, acting assistant U.S. attorney general for the national security division.

The three men were previously part of a US foreign policy initiative called Project Raven, in which the US helped allies in the Middle East track opponents to their regimes.  Project Raven has been going on since 2014.

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