back to article Ex-US intel, military trio were cyber-mercenaries for UAE, say prosecutors

Three former US intelligence and military operatives broke America's weapons export and computer security laws by, among other things, helping the United Arab Emirates hijack and siphon data from people's iPhones, it emerged on Tuesday. US citizens Marc Baier, 49, and Ryan Adams, 34, and ex-citizen Daniel Gericke, 40, were …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    "the three jumped ship to a UAE-based business"

    And there is the problem : Uncle Sam let them out.

    I think that, if you are working for a company that requires governmental approval to export what you are making, the government should also have a say in who you are allowed to go work for outside USA borders.

    Yes, I know, it is a restriction of individual liberty, but honestly, it seems to be a necessity as well. These three not only brazenly quit to go work directly in the UAE for a competing company that openly worked in the same domain as the company they left, but they also recruited ex-colleagues, meaning yet more brain drain going where it definitely shouldn't.

    And it would seem that they had no problem putting almost $1.7 million on the table to stay out of prison. I'm pretty sure that that means they have a lot more than that stashed away somewhere out of Uncle Sam's reach. They profited handsomely from torture and unjust surveillance, they should go to jail.

    1. Al fazed Bronze badge
      WTF?

      Re: "the three jumped ship to a UAE-based business"

      These digichimps were providing similar services to those provided to the US go vermins prior to working for UAE, but that's OK. What's not OK is earning so much money that you don't give a fuck for your previous empoyer who was obviously paying them peanuts to do the same job.

      ALF

  2. Dinanziame Silver badge
    Meh

    “I am working for a foreign intelligence agency who is targeting US persons. I am officially the bad kind of spy.”

    As somebody who is neither from the US nor UAE, I have to say it does not make much difference to me.

    1. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

      it does not make much difference to me.

      Indeed. It seems to me that it would be the targets, aims, methods, and outcomes of the spying that help determine a judgement about "bad" in this context; and not merely the "foreign" nature of the agency, or merely the nationality of the targets.

      1. Aleph0
        WTF?

        Re: it does not make much difference to me.

        Yes, if that Lori Stroud thinks that foreign persons are fair game whereas targeting USians never is, she's implying that a foreign government cannot ever have a lawful motive to investigate any US person.

        Some countries have a worldview that their their citizens are all angels while abroad...

        1. Robert Helpmann??
          Childcatcher

          Re: it does not make much difference to me.

          That's not quite the implication, though I can understand how you arrived at that. Spies are gonna spy, but they have to follow rules of engagement. If I understand correctly, all the Americans involved in spying formerly worked for the US government and they had to sign binding documents saying they would continue playing by the rules... which they failed to do and got caught out. The US government has a separate agency for spying on its citizens and want it to have a monopoly on doing so. No different from every other government out there.

        2. Snorlax

          Re: it does not make much difference to me.

          Reminds me of that Mitchell and Webb Nazi sketch... "Hans,are we the bad guys?"

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aF9LP-9uG_k

    2. Snorlax

      Pretty naive to imagine that these guys restrict themselves to spying on people from country X or country Y.

    3. HildyJ Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Mindset

      To me it points out the prevalent mindset of current and ex intel and military members. People, any people, are legitimate targets of spying.

  3. fpx
    FAIL

    Exploits developed, purchased and deployed. Phones hacked. Targets jailed and worse. And the only crime that they can be convicted for is "export controls"? So presumably, if they had not purchased exploits from US companies, they would have had nothing to worry about.

    1. Al fazed Bronze badge
      Megaphone

      Unless they were really being engaged by the Chinese or Russians whilst they were employed by Uncle SAM, or maybe it was the Isrealis ?

      I doubt the UK go vermins pay that much, at least going by the recent Job Club advert for a hacker with similar talents to these cyberequiped bottom drawer sniffing .....................

  4. AndyFl

    And the company is...

    "Dark Matter" based in the UAE.

    See the story below for more details

    https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-spying-raven/

    A few years ago I was working in the UAE and my company had to buy some wireless gear from Dark Matter. The guy who brought the stuff over was from the USA, completely full of himself and to be honest, an arsehole. We had to endure him boasting about being ex-intel before he actually handed over the goods.

    The radio equipment wasn't anything that special either - just a SDR based spectrum analyser.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And the company is...

      "A few years ago I was working in the UAE and my company had to buy some wireless gear from Dark Matter. The guy who brought the stuff over was from the USA, completely full of himself and to be honest, an arsehole. We had to endure him boasting about being ex-intel before he actually handed over the goods."

      Few years ago , I was in a country nearby UAE. Living a long time there, like colleagues told me, and I could see it, below, can quickly turn some people into complete assholes.

      I was once in a mall, having lunch and there were youngsters nearby, like 14YO.

      They were talking utter and devastating shit in french, plus playing with chips, sending them to one another. I was shocked, because I do speak french. Comtempting and mocking in french the poor Indian lads working there, for a miniscule salary (that is, when they actually have one).

      After a while I got up, ready to leave and ask them in french to cleanup the mess NOW. However, one of thee Indian lads was quicker and cleaned up all. Shit.

      I have no idea if those french lads will come back one day in France, but they'll surely have issues.

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "This is a clear message to anybody": " their prosecution will be dropped if they cough up $1,685,000 between them".

    => If you earned enough money by working for a semi-hostile actor, you'll avoid the brig.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Wonderful isn't it?

      You can pay for your sins, literally, even though those sins resulted in amongst other things, the torture of individuals.

      The scales of justice are more and more balanced with money.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        America proves, once again, it has the best Justice system money can buy

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have not working in a related field for a very long time now but originally, if you wanted to pass fake information over and ensure that the recipients trusted it, then you arranged for the people passing the fake information to be prosecuted and "jailed" - but then, while they were jailed, we changed their identity and moved them to another field with a good retirement guaranteed, provided that they never said anything. I knew one guy who started working for a local radio station - I thought he was doing nothing but he was passing on a lot of local information that he ran into and never discussed on the air.

    3. Snorlax

      Somebody once said "If the punishment for a crime is a fine, you're just targeting poor people".

  6. _LC_ Silver badge
    Trollface

    Do they have a Korean name for their group yet?

    Asking for a friend.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good deal they have !

    In my country, these offenses bear 5-15 years in the locker !

  8. FuzzyTheBear
    Facepalm

    and then

    the US government call them friends 8) wow

  9. A random security guy

    This is a clear message: make more money than we can fine you

    They probably sold their services to multiple governments. They should be in prison.

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