Dutch intelligence officials provided the FBI with crucial evidence that helped pave the way for the bureau’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Dutch media reports.
The Volkskrant newspaper is reporting that officials with the Netherland’s AIVD, the General Intelligence and Security Service, penetrated networks used by Russian hackers in 2014 and observed them subsequently breaking into networks used by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
A similar report also appeared in Nieuwsuur, a Dutch current affairs television program, both resulting from a joint investigation by the two news outlets.
The Dutch intelligence officials made their way into networks used by cyber espionage group Cozy Bear, also known as APT 29, which has been linked by experts to Russian intelligence, possibly Moscow’s Federal Security Service.
The Dutch were able to spy on the hackers for up to two and a half years, determining the location of their operations and also capturing the hackers on film, according to the reports.
The technical evidence that the AIVD and the Netherlands’s MIVD, or Military Intelligence and Security Service, passed to the FBI is described as “crucial” in providing the grounds for the bureau’s probe into Russia’s election meddling, though it is unclear what it entailed. Former FBI Director James Comey has confirmed that the investigation started in July 2016.
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