WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. intelligence and military personnel have agreed to provide computer technology to the United Arab Emirates and have agreed to pay around $ 1.7 million in defiance of a lawsuit filed by the Justice League on Tuesday as the first of its kind.
The defendants – Marc Baier, Ryan Adams and Daniel Gericke – are accused of working as senior managers for a UAE-based company that committed fraud on behalf of the government. The plaintiffs allege that the men provided the methods of kidnapping and bombing that were used to blow up computers in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Washington, alleges that former US officials violated U.S. law on foreign trade regulations and computer fraud. It appears to be part of an increase over the past few months by the CIA of foreign recruits hired by US citizens to promote their intelligence – officials who do so say they are at risk of revealing US secrets.
“This is a clear statement” that the Department of Justice is prosecuting such cases, said Bobby Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law who works in national security.
The lawsuit was filed in a court of law, which included a $ 1.68 million fine, which forced the men to cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigation and to cut off all contact with spies or UAE law enforcement agencies. If they comply with the law for three years, the Department of Justice will not proceed with any prosecution.
As part of the agreement, the three men did not dispute any of the allegations.
The Department of Justice described this as “the first choice of two types of research,” in addition to providing expertise without fraudulent licenses.
“Traffickers and humanitarian workers should be held accountable for their crimes,” Mark Lesko, assistant chief of staff at the National Security Department, said in a statement.
Opponents say the three have left a U.S. company operating in the UAE to join the Emerati company that could add a “significant boost” to their salaries.
The companies were not named in payment documents, but Lori Stroud, a former National Security Agency employee, said she worked with three men in the UAE at CyberPoint in the US and then at DarkMatter in the UAE.
Stroud said he quit because he saw DarkMatter robbing US citizens. He said he had assisted the FBI in his investigation and was happy to see that the case had come to light.
“This is a step forward,” Stroud said.
DarkMatter’s founder and CEO, Faisal al-Bannai, told The Associated Press in 2018 that the company was not involved in any fraudulent activities, although it acknowledged the business deal with the Emirati government, as well as accessing former CIA and NSA experts.
Opponents have argued that between January 2016 and November 2019, the defendants “increased the size and promotion of the” services they provide to the UAE government. They bought more to break into computers and electronic devices from companies around the world, including those based in the US, according to the Ministry of Justice.
This includes the use of so-called “zero-click” – which can get into the hands without communicating with anyone – which Baier bought from an unnamed company in the US in 2016.
Adams and Gericke’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a call for comment, and Baier’s lawyer declined to comment.
The Department of Justice described each of them as a former U.S. intelligence officer or military officer, and said their work for a UAE-based company began after they left the government. Baier had previously worked for the NSA, according to a former colleague who did not want to be named because of the sensitivity that arises.
The CIA warned in a letter written this year about “the proliferation of former officers who have revealed the secrets of CIA operations, co-workers, and business.”
The letter sent to former CIA officials was signed by Sheetal Patel, an assistant technical intelligence assistant. It also said it was a “destructive habit” that the foreign governments recruited former spies “to promote their espionage.” Other examples cited include taking advantage of CIA information or contacting business opportunities and “working in state-owned companies in non-affiliated countries.”
Patel wrote: “We urge you to protect yourself and the CIA by protecting the businesses that sell your work.”
Suderman wrote from Richmond, Virginia. Associated Press Secretary Nomaan Merchant contributed to the report.