DOJ fines NSA hackers who assisted UAE in attacks on dissidents

The Justice Department announced a controversial deal with three former US intelligence operatives that allows them to pay a fine after breaking multiple laws through their offensive hacking for the repressive government of the United Arab Emirates.

text: (Image: file photo)

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(Image: file photo)

The DOJ said 49-year-old Marc Baier, 34-year-old Ryan Adams and 40-year-old Daniel Gericke “entered into a deferred prosecution agreement” that allows them to avoid prison sentences in exchange for paying $1,685,000 “to resolve a Department of Justice investigation regarding violations of US export control, computer fraud and access device fraud laws.”

The three were part of Project Raven, an effort by the UAE to spy on human rights activists, politicians and dissidents opposed to the government. The three even hacked into US companies, creating two exploits that were used to break into smartphones.

Both Reuters and The Intercept conducted an in-depth investigation into the work of Project Raven and a UAE cybersecurity firm named DarkMatter after members of the team raised concerns about the kind of hacking they were being asked to do by UAE officials. 

Despite the accusations listed in the court filing, the DOJ said Baier, Adams and Gericke — all former NSA employees or members of the US military — reached an agreement on September 7 to pay the fines in addition to other restrictions on their work. 


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Baier will be forced to pay $750,000, Adams will pay $600,000, and Gericke will pay $335,000 over a three-year term. All three will also be forced to cooperate with the FBI and DOJ on other investigations and relinquish any foreign or US security clearances. 

They are also permanently banned from having future US security clearances and will be restricted from any jobs involving computer network exploitation, working for certain UAE organizations, exporting defense articles or providing defense services.

The DOJ said the three were senior managers at a UAE company from 2016 to 2019 and continued to hack for the UAE despite being told they were violating rules that say people need a license from the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade…