A Russian venture capitalist and tech executive accused in the Steele dossier of “using botnets and porn traffic” to conduct cyberattacks on Democrats says that Friday’s indictment of 12 Russian nationals for hacking the DNC is an “utter vindication,” reports the Daily Caller.
Aleksej Gubarev, owner of global tech firm XBT Holding – which owns Dallas-based Webzilla, is currently suing BuzzFeed News for defamation for failing to properly investigate the dossier’s allegations before publishing the 35-page document – which include the claim that Gubarev was “recruited under duress” by Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB.
“This is a complete and utter vindication of our clients,” said Val Gurvits, Gubarev’s attorney.
Another attorney for Gubarev, Evan Fray-Witzer said in a statement: “When Ben Smith and BuzzFeed decided to publish the Dossier, they knew that they had been unable to verify any of the allegations in it,” adding “They knew that falsely accusing people of serious criminal activity could ruin lives, but they decided that getting traffic to their website was more important than the truth. It was all about clicks and dollars for them. Nothing else mattered.”
Last January, Gubarev said that he was never even contacted by authorities over the matter.
The salacious innuendoes in the periodic reports about Trump’s personal life dominated social media headlines. The mention of Webzilla and Gubarev was among the more specific allegations: that XBT and affiliates “had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership.”
Gubarev said he operated 75,000 servers across the globe and got real-time information if there had been hacking or illicit activity tied to his businesses. There is no evidence of that, he said, adding that no one has contacted him.
“I have a physical office in Dallas. Nobody contacted me,” said Gubarev, adding that 40 percent of his business is handled over the servers it runs in Dallas and the United States accounts for about 27 percent of his global business. –McClatchy
BuzzFeed has argued that it was justified in publishing the dossier since it had already been circulating among government officials and members of the press for several months prior to publication. They also point to a disclaimer which accompanied the dossier that its allegations had not been corroborated.
“Every development of the past 17 months has reaffirmed our position that the dossier was circulating at the highest levels of government, and squarely within our First Amendment right to publish,” said BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal in response to Gubarev’s comments.
In order to help defend themselves against Gubarev, BuzzFeed filed a lawsuit against the DNC to force them to hand over information related to the “Steele Dossier” after the DNC ignored a subpoena for proof they were hacked – including “digital remnants left by the Russian state operatives,” as well as a full version of the hacking report prepared by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike.
The DNC notably wouldn’t allow FBI investigators to look at the server, instead relying on the hacking report prepared by CrowdStrike (founded by Russian expat Dimitri Alperovitch – who sits on the very Anti-Russian Atlantic Council along with Evelyn “loose lips” Farkas).
“As part of the discovery process, BuzzFeed is attempting to verify claims in the dossier that relate to the hacking of the DNC,” said BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenhal in a statement. “We’re asking a federal court to force the DNC to follow the law and allow BuzzFeed to fully defend its First Amendment rights.”
In January, the DNC claimed that providing the requested information would expose the DNC’s internal operations and harm the party politically.
“If these documents were disclosed, the DNC’s internal operations, as well as its ability to effectively achieve its political goals, would be harmed,” said DNC lawyers.
Word of BuzzFeed’s suit against the DNC followed a report that the news outlet hired a former top FBI and White House cybersecurity official to fly around the globe on a secret mission to corroborate various claims in the dossier.
The probe is being conducted by Anthony Ferrante – formerly the FBI’s top official in charge of “cyber incident response” at the U.S. National Security Council under the Obama administration. Ferrante is leading the investigation from his new employer, D.C.-based business advisory firm, Forensic Technologies International (FTI) consulting reports Foreign Policy.
At FTI, Ferrante launched what’s now been a months-long stealth effort chasing down documents and conducting interviews on the ground in various countries around the world. His team directed BuzzFeed lawyers to subpoena specific data and testimony from dozens of agencies or companies across the country and assembled a cyber ops war room to analyze that data, according to sources familiar with the work.
Considering that much of the Steele dossier reportedly came from a collaboration with high level Kremlin officials (a collusion if you will), one has to wonder exactly what channels Ferrante and FTI have tapped in order to access such information.
And in a separate effort to prove the Steele dossier’s claims, a footnote in an April House Intelligence Committee report revealed that an ongoing, private investigation is being funded with $50 million supplied by George Soros and a group of 7-10 wealthy donors from California and New York.
This effort was originally revealed in February and reported on by The Federalist, after a series of leaked text messages between Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and lobbyist Adam Waldman suggested that Daniel J. Jones – an ex-FBI investigator and former Feinstein staffer, was “intimately involved with ongoing efforts to retroactively validate a series of salacious and unverified memos published by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, and Fusion GPS.“
In short, Jones is working with Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele to continue their investigation into Donald Trump, using a $50 million war chest revealed by the House Intel Committee report.
So there are currently two well funded probes being conducted by two former FBI investigators with the goal of proving the dossier’s claims – which remain largely unverified. Meanwhile Mueller’s indictment is an “utter vindication” according to a Russian tech executive named in the document.
And still no collusion…
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