Indian hackers allegedly used by Israeli private investigator in jobs for Russian oligarchs

An Israeli private investigator uses Indian hackers currently in US custody to conduct surveillance operations for ultra-wealthy Russians, a reporter said in a court filing late Wednesday.

Freelance journalist Scott Stedman told a New York court that jailed private detective Aviram Azari “acted on” surveillance and cyber-intelligence operations. at the behest of Russian oligarchs,” citing a mix of public reporting and confidential sources.

Stedmann said in an announcement that one of the concerned Russian oligarchs was aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska, whom he indirectly hired Azari in connection with a trade dispute in Austria.

Deripaska’s spokeswoman said in an email that the allegations were “absolutely untrue.” A lawyer for Azari, who pleaded guilty in a separate case last month to conspiracy to hack and abetting identity theft, did not return messages.

Stedman made his announcement in support of his request to summon Azari for evidence in 2020 to fight a US defamation suit filed against him by British-Israeli security adviser Walter Soriano.

In a series of articles for his publication, Forensic News, Stedman claimed, among other things, that Soriano was a middleman between wealthy Russians and surveillance firms.

Soriano denied the allegations and sued the articles, accusing Stedman of pursuing a campaign of defamation, invasion of privacy, and harassment.

Stedman’s attorney told the New York court that “multiple confidential sources” told the reporter that Azari “worked closely with Soriano for years” and thus “reported the testimony and documents of the prisoner’s private eye” for Forensic News. Can confirm the truth.”

In an email to Reuters, Soriano’s lawyer Shlomo Reichschafen said Stedman’s claims were “false and baseless” and the reporter has “no evidence” that his client and Azari allegedly acted together.

In a statement to Reuters, Stedman said he had “very strong reason to believe that Mr. Azari worked with Mr. Soriano on cyber-related projects for several Russian oligarchs and other billionaires” and that an effort As part of the summons to Azari. To protect my journalism and my business.”

Azari is currently in federal prison in Brooklyn awaiting sentencing in connection with a hacking operation involving German financial technology company Wirecard AG, his lawyer said last month.

Reuters reported last year that Azari had been accused of hiring Indian hacking firm Belltrox on behalf of powerful clients. BellTroX, which has been accused of hacking by cybersecurity researchers at Facebook and elsewhere, could not be reached for comment.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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