MOSCOW, April 24 (RIA Novosti) – An FBI informant has been linked to hundreds of cyberattacks on foreign websites, including in Iran, Syria, Brazil and Pakistan, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
According to documents obtained by the newspaper from closed sessions of a New York federal court, the FBI might have used hackers to collect data abroad, despite the US government’s official policy of persecuting so-called hacktivists.
The 2012 cyberattacks were orchestrated by Hector Xavier Monsegur, a member of the hacker group Anonymous, who had been recruited by the FBI in 2012 to help the bureau identify other Anonymous activists.
Among those identified by Monsegur was Jeremy Hammond, who is now serving a 10-year sentence for cyberattacks inside the US. Although not charged with crimes committed against foreign websites, Hammond claimed that Mosegur directed him to hack government domains in Iran, Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan and many other countries.
According to court records, Monsegur and Hammond hacked websites to collect emails and databases, including those of Syrian banks and ministries. The data might have been used by the FBI to share with other US intelligence agencies.
“The FBI took advantage of hackers who wanted to help support the Syrian people against the Assad regime, who instead unwittingly provided the US government access to Syrian systems,” said the court statement as quoted by The New York Times.
Monsegur is also suspected of attacking Brazilian government websites. His sentencing hearing has been repeatedly postponed and his current whereabouts are unknown, which could be explained by the fact that he has been serving as an FBI informant.