US Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Russia’s Concord Management

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US prosecutors dropped its case against Russia’s Concord Management and Consulting over the 2016 election meddling allegations saying it risks exposing law enforcement techniques and threatens American security, court documents revealed.

On Monday, a federal judge approved US prosecutors' request to dismiss the criminal case against the Russian catering firm.

"In light of the defendant’s conduct, however, its ephemeral presence and immunity to just punishment, the risk of exposure of law enforcement’s tools and techniques, and the post-indictment change in the proof available at trial, the balance of equities has shifted. It is no longer in the best interests of justice or the country’s national security to continue this prosecution", the document said on Monday.

Concord Management and Consulting LLC was among two other companies and 13 individuals indicted by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller Mueller in February 2018 for what prosecutors say was a conspiracy to sway the election for then-candidate Donald Trump with the help of fake social media accounts. The company has pleaded not guilty and put forward a vigorous defence in the US courts.

US authorities claimed Concord engaged in 'information warfare' and was critical in the 'systemic' interference that was alleged in the Mueller report. US authorities also tried to link Concord with the Internet Research Agency which had been accused of being a 'troll farm' that meddled in the US election.

"I believe this case was always a political case. Mueller never had any evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia over the election, 2016 election. This was probably what appeared to be the biggest smoking gun, these claims against these individuals. But we found out - I think now - that there's more smoke and no fire. And they've decided to dismiss this case now in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, in the midst of a stock market collapse, basically so no one will pay attention to it", says Daniel Kovalik, Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh.

The Mueller report specifically accuses the Russian government of direct involvement with Concord owner Yevgeniy Prigozhin and the Internet Research Agency.

Prigozhin, earlier this month, told the US court in a filing that Concord has made no direct or indirect payments to Russia's Internet Research Agency.

The court document also said the government concluded the effort was not prudent considering Concord is "a Russian company with no presence in the United States and no exposure to meaningful punishment in the event of a conviction".

US prosecutors, however, also vowed not to give up, according to the filing.

"The United States will continue its efforts to apprehend the individual defendants and bring them before this Court to face the pending charges", the document said.

The Russian government has repeatedly denied accusations of election meddling and characterized the charges as an absurd excuse to justify losing an election.

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