Dutch intelligence 'infiltrated Russian group that hacked US Democratic party'

Lucy Bush
January 28, 2018

Editor's Note: This piece was authored by Townhall intern Chris Reeves.

Dutch intelligence services hacked Russian cyber attackers and alerted USA counterparts after watching them transfer "thousands" of Democratic Party emails ahead of the 2016 United States election, Dutch media reported on Friday. This cyber attack ultimately served as part of the basis for widespread charges of Russian government interference in the 2016 USA presidential election.

The exact timing of when the Dutch lost access to the Russian network is unclear, though the Volksrant report says that the AIVD that they watched hacks on Democratic leaders.

"There is nothing to say", Peskov said, when asked whether Moscow was aware that Dutch intelligence services had been tracking activities of a hacking group from Russian Federation for two years and provided their USA counterparts with information about the group's alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

But the Volksrant report says that intelligence in the Netherlands, which is not part of the "Five Eyes" group of the closest US intelligence partners, also shared info with the Americans.

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"If Dutch newspapers want to throw oil on the fire of the anti-Russian hysteria in the United States, that's not the most dignified of activities", Peskov told reporters.

American intelligence agencies' revelations about Russian hackers attempting to sway the 2016 elections in favor of Donald Trump is thanks to a "fluke" breach on the part of Dutch spies, local media has reported.

How did Dutch officials know that it was SVR specifically?

The Dutch agency's involvement was first reported by current affairs program Nieuwsuur and newspaper de Volkskrant on Thursday.

"Not only can the intelligence service now see what the Russians are doing, they can also see who's doing it. Pictures are taken of every visitor", the report said.

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But the questions raised by the Dutch scoop are as significant as the gaps it helps to close.

The U.S. intelligence community blamed the Russian government for orchestrating an influence operation during the presidential election last January. An information and technology sharing arrangement with the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies resulted in the determination that Cozy Bear's efforts were at least in part being driven by the Russian Federation's leadership-including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mueller's team is seeking to uncover whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia's efforts to sway the election, including leaks of hacked Democratic Party files. One would expect USA intelligence to try to prevent that kind of thing.

That confidence is based on "AIVD hackers having had access to the office-like space in the centre of Moscow for years", the Volkskrant said, citing sources who added that the Dutch had provided "technical evidence" of the attack on the Democratic Party. The evidence goes back more than three years, and the Dutch intelligence service has long since lost its access, meaning that Cozy Bear figured out it was being watched and, presumably, by what means.

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