Three former officers of the United States (US) intelligence services have been hired by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to carry out operations in the field of espionage. Now, these three people admit to having committed crimes of computer piracy and violations of US export laws, which restrict the transfer of military technology to foreign governments. The revelation is made in documents released publicly this Tuesday.
These same documents detail a conspiracy carried out by three men who have provided advanced technology to the UAE, allies of the US, in addition to having contributed to that country’s intelligence operations aimed at diminishing enemies of the emirates.
According to the documents, the three men have had unauthorized access to data from computers, electronic devices and servers around the world, including some in the United States. These citizens were identified as Marc Baier, 49, Ryan Adams, 34, and Daniel Gericke, 40. The first worked for the National Security Agency, while the other two were employees of the army and the secret service community, roles to which they are now unable to return.
Now, these three men admit to having violated US law, reaching a three-year non-prosecution agreement. If they comply with the agreement, the Department of Justice will drop the case. For this, each of them will have to pay heavy fines, which are the equivalent of the money they made working for DarkMatter. Altogether, they are 1,685 million dollars (about 1,426,000 euros).
In addition, they are forever barred from receiving a security clearance from the US government, which made it clear that this should be an unprecedented decision: “This agreement is the first of its kind. Computer pirates to be hired and those who support these activities that violate US law must always expect an indictment of their conduct,” the document reads, which quotes a sentence from Mark J. Lesko, Assistant Attorney General.
To get here, the men worked from a company that is managed by the UAE government. DarkMatter defines itself as a “UAE-based cybersecurity company dedicated to providing cyber security and protection to government agencies and organizations alike.”
Curious is the fact that DarkMatter is a company that originated in a project created in the USA. In fact, this organization began as a result of CyberPoint, and entered the Middle East after being hired by the emirate government to help protect the country from computer attacks. It was at this time that the company received a license from the US government to work with military intelligence issues, at a time when most employees were already working on projects for the National Security Agency or other intelligence services.
With ideas to go further, the UAE government will have asked CyberPoint to exceed the limits guaranteed by the US license. In some of these requests, that company has even refused a request from the emirates to decrypt codes and to hack servers based in the United States.
Faced with the refusal, the UAE decided to proceed, in 2015, to create DarkMatter, a company with the same mold, but which was no longer covered by American laws, even though a large part of CyberPoint’s workers had moved there. Then, that company will have received former employees of various security agencies, including the CIA.
Directly to DarkMatter, the United States issues a warning: “The FBI will always investigate individuals and organizations profiting from cybercrime,” said FBI Assistant CyberDivision Director Bryan Vordran.
This message is clear, including former US government officials. There is a risk, and there will be consequences”, he added.
According to the documents, these men are part of a big trend among the professionals of the American intelligence services who are in retirement, and who are dedicated to accepting positions in which they work for foreign governments, namely in the area of cybersecurity.