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Kremlin behind Australian MH17 hacking
Gepost door  redactie redactie Gepostop  13-03-2020 11:02 13-03-2020 11:02 423  keer gelezen 423 keer gelezen  0 reacties0 reacties News News

Australian Federal Police have been caught up in a Kremlin-backed disinformation campaign, with fears Russian spies have ­obtained more internal documents about the MH17 investigation.

The opening days of the MH17 mass murder trial against four Russia-backed separatists, three of whom were former Russian ­soldiers, were rocked when secret Australian documents provided to the Joint Investigation Team were published on pro-Moscow social media sites. The JIT, comprising experts from Australia, The Netherlands, Malaysia, Belgium and Ukraine, has compiled evidence for Dutch prosecutors in the past five years.

On the eve of the trial, the website Bonanza Media published Australian documents from two AFP officers about the authenticity of four photographs of a Buk Telar missile as it was being transported through eastern Ukraine just before it was used to shoot down the Boeing 777, killing all 298 passengers on board.

It also published a police interview with a German journalist, Billy Six, and used other edited documents in the case file, such as Dutch intelligence reports on the locations of Buk missile launchers, to sow doubt about the reliability of the prosecution case.

On Tuesday, prosecutors told the hearing, held in the District Court of The Hague but sitting in Schiphol, the Australian information was being used as part of a cynical disinformation campaign.

Prosecutor Dedy Woei-a-Tsoi said the information had come from Australia, The Netherlands, Belgium or Malaysia. She did not mention Ukraine, as it is believed it may not have had access to all of the information that was subsequently published, but said it ­appeared Russian intelligence agency GRU was involved. “We must take into account published information (from the AFP) has come from the possibility of a successful GRU hacking in one of the four countries,’’ she said.

One of Australia’s Five Eyes partners, Britain, had previously confirmed one Russian intelligence officer had been discovered trying to hack MH17 information from Malaysia and also at The Hague.

AFP Detective Superintendent Dave Nelson said all JIT members were “very conscious of IT security because of the disinformation we’ve seen in the media … we’ve all considered our own systems and taken the necessary steps’’.

The AFP document shows there were initial doubts about the authenticity of the four Buk photographs taken in Sniznhe, Torez and Donetsk because the metadata was confusing. Prosecutors say subsequent investigations proved they were genuine.

The published Dutch intelligence appeared to show there was no Buk in the eastern Ukraine area in July 2014, with the closest being one that had been damaged and was unworkable.

Prosecutors told the court the report had focused on permanently positioned Buk missiles, and so didn’t capture the presence of a Buk that was temporarily transported to a field near Sniznhe and used to down MH17.

The owner of the Bonanza Media website, Yana Erlashova, a former journalist with Russia Today who has produced a film about inconsistencies in the JIT investigation, told Tass this week: “We are going to make other reports … once we have facts checked. We’ll see what they bring up in court, to see what they have. We are pretty much sure we have a lot of materials to counter.”

Australian families have been angered at how Russia has used the deaths of 298 people, 38 of them Australian ­residents, for political means. Bryan Clancy, whose brother Michael and sister-in-law Carol, of Albion Park, NSW, died on the flight, said: “They’re murderers and they’re trying to cover their tracks. They’re trying to get away with it. I was aware they were trying to cover up a fair bit … but now with that much more that’s coming out in the court, showing how much has been covered and the lengths that they’re going to, it’s beyond my belief.’’

Officials have tried to reassure protected witnesses that their safety hasn’t been compromised. The case has been adjourned until March 23.

Jacquelin Magnay is the European Correspondent for The Australian, based in London and covering all manner of big stories across political, business, Royals and security issues.

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