WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office said Wednesday that self-proclaimed hackers in Russia stole evidence in an attempt to wipe out his investigation into a company responsible for financing a Russian propaganda campaign for to interfere in the 2016 US elections.
Prosecutors said in a court that filed in Washington that a Twitter handle called @HackingRedstone came online last October 22 to brag it had hacked some of the evidence in the case.
"We have access to the Special Counsel Mueller's probe database when we hacked Russian server with information from the Russian troll box," the legal document said the Twitter post.
In February 2018, Mueller accused 1
The companies mentioned in the charge included the Internet Research Agency (IRA), known for its "trolling" on social media, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, said to have provided financial support for the operation and Concord Catering.
The Twitter account associated with an online file sharing portal that it said contained Mueller's "IRA and Russian Cooperation" documents
"Enjoy reading!" Added it.
The data that was generated online was "changed and communicated as part of an information campaign aimed at (apparently) discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the US political system," accused prosecutors.
On the same day, a journalist contacted Mueller's office to report receipt of a Twitter message from someone who said they had hacked a Russian law firm who had received the evidence from Concord's US law firm Reed Smith LLP.
The illegal activity described by prosecutors illustrates the US intelligence services' concerns about continuing efforts by Russia to interfere with US policy.
The FBI has found no evidence that US servers were compromised and the IP address of the account used to publish materials originating from Russia, accused prosecutors.
Concord Management is pursued in Mueller's study of US allegations that Moscow interfered in the American democratic process to help the Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Mueller also examines whether there was any coordination between members of the Trump campaign and Moscow officials. The Kremlin refuses election disruption and President Trump denies that there was any collapse that calls the query a political witch hunt.
Wednesday's filing in U.S. District Court of District of Columbia is the latest in a dispute between prosecutors and Concord's US lawyers over how the defense can share highly sensitive evidence with Concord's Russian corporate officers.
One of these officials is businessman Evgeny Prigozhin, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and known in Russia as "Putin's cook."
In the prosecution, prosecutors said that Russian defendants adopted fake online people to push divisive messages, traveled to the United States to gather intelligence and orchestrated political collections while forming as Americans. Prigozhin was one of the 13 people accused.
He is not expected to appear in a US court because Russia does not have a extradition agreement with the United States. However, his company Concord employed US lawyers to fight the charges.
Prosecutors say they do not oppose Concord's business leaders seeing the evidence.
But they fear American sources of intelligence, and the methods can be compromised if the materials are not reviewed in the United States. They have asked the judge not to let Concord distribute the materials electronically to people in Russia.
Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing Grant McCool