Russian Hacker Claims FBI Coerced Confession Over Clinton Cyberattack
May 13, 2017
A Russian man wanted by the Justice Department on charges connected to
hacking U.S. companies now claims the FBI offered him immunity in
exchange for accepting responsibility for cyberattacks targeting former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
As The Washington Times reports, Yevgeny Nikulin, the alleged hacker,
laid the claim to Russian media Thursday in a letter sent from a Czech
Republic prison cell amid an international extradition battle currently underway between Washington and Moscow.
FBI agents promised Mr. Nikulin money, American citizenship and a free apartment for taking the fall over hacking Mrs. Clinton's campaign, he
alleged in a letter published Thursday by Nastoyashchoe Vremya, a Russian-language website.
“[They told me:] you will have to confess to breaking into Clinton's
inbox for [President Trump] on behalf of [Russian President Vladimir
Putin],” Mr. Nikulin wrote, as translated by The Moscow Times.
"Later I received an offer from an agent: "You will have to declare
that you broke Hillary Clinton mailbox for J. Trump on Putin's orders,
you must agree to the extradition to the US, then we will remove all
charges give you apartment and money, US citizenship "- I gave up
shortly" questioning "was over, the agent said that they had come"
According to Nikulin, the proposal was made during conversations
14-15 November. The following conversation then took place on February 7 (translation via Currenttime.tv)
"You have to say that it is you broke-mail Clinton, that you
prepared and entered into a democratic network and polling stations on
Putin's orders, you call the names of accomplices, agree to extradition,
and in America we will resolve all the issues will be living in an
apartment and we will provide you all."
“He was offered to falsely testify that he was cooperating in the
attack on the Democratic Party,” defense attorney Martin Sadilek said
Thursday, the Associated Press reported.
FBI agents interviewed Mr. Nikulin twice since his arrest, he wrote, and
each time asked him to confess to hacking American political targets.
Mr. Nikulin said he refused their initial request last November, then
received a second offer three months later.
FBI agents asked Mr. Nikulin to admit hacking Mrs. Clinton's
presidential campaign, Democratic Party computers and American polling
stations “on Putin's orders,” he wrote.
In exchange, he alleges, the FBI said he'd be extradited to the U.S.
but ultimately given money, citizenship and a free apartment.
The FBI declined to comment.
The Justice Department has charged Mr. Nikulin with hacking LinkedIn,
Dropbox and Formspring, but not for cyberattacks on the political
targets compromised during the run up to last year's election. The U.S. government has largely attributed those cyberattacks to a division of
Russia's military intelligence agency, GRU, referred to by names
including APT 28, Pawn Storm and Fancy Bear.
An extradition hearing concerning Mr. Nikulin had scheduled for
Thursday, May 11, in Prague, but proceedings were abruptly postponed
until May 30 due to formal objections raised by defense attorneys
involving language barriers and other issues, the Associated Press
Additionally, as The Moscow Times reports, the case has drawn some
attention in Russia, where reporters have unearthed photos of the self-described “used car salesman” driving lavish cars and taking photos
with the Russian elite. Nikulin's social media pages had included snaps
with both the daughter of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, and Kremlin
press secretary President Dmitry Peskov.