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President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about meetings with the Russian ambassador weeks before Trump became president.

The charges were brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as part of his inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

Michael Flynn is the most senior member of the administration to be indicted.

He also revealed he was co-operating with Robert Mueller’s inquiry.

Significantly, a statement made by Michael Flynn to prosecutors appears to implicate a more senior, though unnamed, Trump team official – indicating the direction in which Robert Mueller’s investigation may be heading.

Media outlets, including NBC News, Bloomberg and the Washington Post, said the senior official is Jared Kushner – Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law.

Appearing in a federal court in Washington DC, Michael Flynn admitted to one count of knowingly making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements”.

According to an AFP reporter in court, the judge accepted Michael Flynn’s guilty plea and said he would not face trial.

Michael Flynn then issued a statement in which he said: “I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right.”

He said his plea and co-operation deal “reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country”.

Image source Wikimedia

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Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant-general, is unlikely to serve more than six months in prison.

The White House issued a statement saying that “nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn”. A presidential appearance in front of reporters was then canceled.

As Michael Flynn was escorted from court by FBI agents, a handful of protesters shouted “criminal” and “lock him up”, echoing a chant he led against Hillary Clinton during the GOP convention in 2016.

Michael Flynn was forced to resign 23 days into his job in February, a month after he was questioned by the FBI for misleading the White House about meeting then Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during the transition period, before Donald Trump took office.

Then, just over a week ago, media said his legal team had told the president’s lawyers they could no longer discuss the case, prompting suggestions that he had begun co-operating with prosecutors.

It is not clear why he did not tell the truth to investigators. However, it is illegal for a private US citizen, as Michael Flynn was during the transition, to conduct foreign affairs without the permission or involvement of the US government.

According to new reports, Paul Manafort, who was Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, was wiretapped by the FBI due to concerns about his links with Russia, according to US media.

The reported surveillance, granted under a court warrant, occurred both before and after the 2016 election.

Investigators wanted to know if Paul Manafort had sought Russian help with the campaign.

It is not known if the wiretap, which began in 2014, included conversations with President Trump. Paul Manafort is said to be facing an indictment.

The former political consultant, who had worked for Ukraine’s former ruling party, was chairman of the Trump campaign from June to August 2016. He has not commented on the CNN report, which has been confirmed by CBS News.

Image source Getty

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FBI special counsel Robert Mueller is leading an investigation into alleged attempts by Russia to influence the 2016 election.

However, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants were granted before his investigation started, and were first authorized as part of an investigation into Washington consulting firms working for Ukraine, CNN reported.

After the 2014 warrant ended, it was renewed again until earlier this year, in order to allow the FBI to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives.

Communications collected with the Manafort wiretaps sparked concerns among investigators that he had encouraged the Russians to help with the election campaign, CNN cited three sources as saying – although two of the sources said the evidence had not been conclusive.

The FBI, as well as several congressional committees, are investigating whether Russia attempted to interfere in the US election in order to help Donald Trump.

FBI agents raided Paul Manafort’s suburban Washington DC home on July 26, according to the New York Times.

Agents had picked the lock to his Virginia home as Paul Manafort lay in bed, and were looking for evidence that he had set up off-shore bank accounts, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, who lost the election to Donald Trump, said that she “wouldn’t rule out” questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election if evidence emerged of Russian interference.

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Donald Trump has turned his fire on Hillary Clinton, after an investigation was launched into the action taken by the FBI during the election campaign.

The FBI and the DoJ face questions over their handling of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

FBI director James Comey’s decision to reopen an investigation 11 days before the election shook up the race.

Donald Trump tweeted that Hillary Clinton was “guilty as hell”.

He continues to fire out tweets on a range of subjects just a week before his inauguration.

In the latest batch his anger over alleged compromising material held on him by Russia shows no sign of abating, again calling it “fake news” and “phony allegations” put together by “my political opponents and a failed spy afraid of being sued”.

Donald Trump then turned to January 12 announcement that a US government watchdog was to investigate the actions taken by the FBI and the justice department during the election campaign.

After he won the election, Donald Trump had toned down his rhetoric against his opponent, refusing to follow up on his election mantra that she should be “locked up” for criminal behavior.

On January 13, the president-elect tweeted: “What are Hillary Clinton’s people complaining about with respect to the FBI. Based on the information they had she should never have been allowed to run – guilty as hell.

“They were VERY nice to her. She lost because she campaigned in the wrong states – no enthusiasm!”

On January 12, the DoJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said he would look into “certain actions” by the FBI and DoJ.

Although Hillary Clinton was cleared of any wrongdoing days before the US voted, her team blamed James Comey’s announcement as a key factor in her defeat.

Michael Horowitz said his review would look at a news conference in July 2016 when James Comey said he would not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton.

A letter to Congress on October 28, in which James Comey said there were more emails to look at, will also be subject to this new inquiry.

Michael Horowitz said his investigation had come in response to “numerous” requests from the public and from members of Congress.

Hillary Clinton said she had set up a home email server for reasons of convenience, but admitted it was a mistake.

In clearing her in July, the FBI said Hillary Clinton and her staff were “extremely careless” in handling classified materials. However, there was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing, it said.

Then in October they briefly reopened the investigation after finding new related emails but nothing was found on them and the case was closed for a second time.

In another of his tweets, the president-elect repeated that: “My people will have a full report on hacking within 90 days!”

In his press conference on January 11, Donald Trump said he wanted a report into hacking of all types, including defense and industry.

The president-elect also admitted for the first time “I think it was Russia” when asked about hacking of the election campaign, but said many others had also hacked the US.

US intelligence agencies this month released an unclassified version of a report alleging that the Russian government had a “clear preference” for Donald Trump to win the US election.

The report says Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered” a campaign aimed at influencing the outcome.

US intelligence agencies are also weighing claims that Moscow is holding compromising information about Donald Trump.

Unsubstantiated allegations suggest Donald Trump’s election team colluded with Russia and that there were salacious videos of his private life, including claims of using prostitutes at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow.

In his series of tweets on January 13, Donald Trump called the claims “made-up facts by sleazebag political operatives”.

The FBI has released 129 pages of documents related to a 2001 investigation into then-President Bill Clinton’s controversial pardon of Democratic donor and financier Marc Rich.

According to NBC News, the release reportedly comes in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) submitted to the FBI. The investigation was closed in 2005.

Photo Flickr

Photo Flickr

The documents were released online on October 31, but received little attention until the FBI noted it in a tweet on November 1.

The surprise move comes after FBI Director James Comey was accused of attempting to influence the election with his announcement that the bureau found more emails that could be connected to its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private server.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign questioned the timing of the release.

Hillary Clinton’s camp has blasted FBI Director James Comey for “blatant double standards” over the new inquiry into the Democratic candidate’s email use.

The comments came after media reports that James Comey had urged against publicly accusing Russia of interfering in the US election, including alleged email hacking.

James Comey’s concern about releasing the information was due to the proximity to the election, reports say.

The statement that James Comey reportedly declined to sign off on was released by the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on October 7.

Image source Wikipedia

Image source Wikipedia

It said: “The US intelligence community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations… these thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.”

James Comey agreed with the statement but was against making it public before the election, according to media.

There have been allegations that Russian hackers have targeted the Democrats in an effort to skew the election in favor of Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook said: “It is impossible to view this as anything less than a blatant double standard.”

He also called on James Comey to “immediately explain this incongruence and apply the same standard to Donald Trump’s associates as he has applied to Hillary Clinton’s.”

James Comey has faced a fierce backlash for announcing on October 28, just 11 days before the presidential election, that the FBI is investigating new emails that may be linked to its probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

In March 2015, it emerged that Hillary Clinton had been breaking federal rules by operating a private email server while she was secretary of state from 2009-2013.

Hillary Clinton’s lawyers combed through the server and provided the State Department with 30,000 work-related emails, but her campaign deleted another 33,000 messages, saying they were personal in nature.

James Comey concluded in July that Hillary Clinton had been “extremely careless” in handling classified information, but there were no grounds for any charges.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign team has condemned the FBI’s decision to brief lawmakers on a new inquiry into the Democratic candidate’s email use.

On October 28, FBI Director James Comey informed Congress of the move in a letter, 11 days before the election.

Hillary Clinton told supporters the move was “unprecedented” and “deeply troubling”.

However, Donald Trump has praised the FBI’s decision.

In his letter to Congress, James Comey said the FBI had learned of fresh emails which might be “pertinent” to its previous inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server when she was secretary of state in the Obama administration.

James Comey has defended the move, insisting that not making it public would be “misleading” and also risked being “misunderstood”, given that the FBI does not know the significance of the newly found emails.Hillary Clinton on Brussels attacks

Speaking to supporters in Florida on October 29, Hillary Clinton said: “It’s not just strange, it’s unprecedented. And it is deeply troubling because voters deserve to get full and complete facts.

“So we’ve called on Director Comey to explain everything right away, put it all out on the table.”

Hillary Clinton has said she is confident the investigation into the emails will not change the FBI’s original finding in July, which criticized her but cleared her of any illegal acts.

James Comey has been heavily criticized by Clinton supporters – and according to the New York Times, justice department officials – for his decision to make the information public so close to polling day.

In a memo, James Comey acknowledged “we do not ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations”. But he said he felt an “obligation” to do so given that he had previously testified that the FBI investigation was complete.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta said the information provided by James Comey was “long on innuendo” and “short on facts”.

There was, he said, “no evidence of wrongdoing. No charge of wrongdoing. No indication this is even about Hillary”.

Donald Trump meanwhile has said the issue is the biggest political scandal in the US since Watergate, which brought down President Richard Nixon.

At a rally in Colorado on October 29, the Republican candidate said: “Her criminal action was willful, deliberate, intentional and purposeful.

“Hillary set up an illegal server for the obvious purpose of shielding her illegal actions from public disclosure and exposure.”

The FBI has already established that Hillary Clinton had held classified information on a private email server.

In July, James Comey said Hillary Clinton’s handling of sensitive material during her tenure as secretary of state was “extremely careless”, but cleared her of any criminal wrongdoing.

The latest emails were discovered as part of a separate investigation into the estranged husband of top Clinton aide, Huma Abedin.

Devices belonging to Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner, a former high-flying congressman, were seized in an investigation into whether he sent explicit emails to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina.

Investigators are reviewing the documents to see if they contain classified information.

Hillary Clinton’s private email server was first revealed in March 2015 by the New York Times.

She did not immediately express regret, and said the main reason for her “hdr22@clintonemail.com” address was “convenience”.

Soon after that Hillary Clinton apologized in an interview with ABC News, and has since said sorry to voters a number of times.

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The FBI has said it is deciding whether to pursue and investigate an alleged incident regarding Brad Pitt and his children while travelling on a private jet last week, Variety reports.

It was “continuing to gather facts” and would evaluate whether an investigation at the federal level would be pursued

Angelina Jolie filed for divorce on September 19 citing irreconcilable differences.

She has asked for physical custody of the couple’s six children, asking the judge to give Brad Pitt visitation rights.

Image source Wikipedia

Image source Wikipedia

The LA Times reported that the FBI had been informed of “a child welfare incident” involving Pitt on an international flight last week by a law enforcement source who was not authorized to discuss the matter. It said that the incident involved “unruly behavior” and that the Los Angeles county department of children and family services was conducting an investigation.

The LAPD denied that it was conducting an investigation into Brad Pitt, and said that to the best of its knowledge, no allegations had been made against him.

The alleged incident is believed to have taken place on September 14, on a private jet flying from France to Los Angeles.

Brad Pitt released a statement to People magazine after Angelina Jolie filed for divorce, saying he was “saddened”, and adding: “What matters most now is the well-being of our kids. I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time.”

Angelina Jolie’s lawyer, Robert Offer, said the decision to divorce had been made “for the health of the family”.

Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services said it could not confirm or deny whether it was investigating Brad Pitt because of confidentiality laws.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt married in 2014, having been together for a decade. They have six children together.

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The FBI has released files relating to its investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of private email while serving as Secretary of State.

The 58 pages of notes included Hillary Clinton’s interview and details about her private server at her New York residence.

In July 2016, the FBI ended a year-long inquiry into whether Hillary Clinton broke the law by using a private server.

FBI Director James Comey did not recommend criminal charges.Hillary Clinton South Carolina victory

James Comey concluded that though Hillary Clinton and her staff had been “extremely careless” with classified information, there was no evidence that she knowingly shared sensitive material.

Hilalry Clinton has claimed that her use of private email was allowed.

According to the FBI files, Hilalry Clinton told the investigators she “did not explicitly request permission to use a private server or email address”, but that members of the State Department were aware of her use of a private address “because it was displayed to anyone with whom she exchanged emails”.

The documents also include information on how the private server was set up in the basement of Hillary Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, New York.

Though the documents, which included summaries of interviews with some Hillary Clinton staffers, offered more insight into the FBI’s investigation, large portions of the files were heavily redacted.

Questions over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server have dogged her presidential campaign on the trail over the last year.

A spokesman for Donald Trump said the notes “reinforce her tremendously bad judgment and dishonesty”.

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Hillary Clinton has been questioned by the FBI over her use of emails while she was secretary of state, her campaign says.

A spokesperson for the Democratic presidential candidate said it was a voluntary interview.

The FBI is investigating Hillary Clinton and her aides over whether they mishandled classified information on a private email server she used while serving as secretary of state.Hillary Clinton South Carolina victory

Hillary Clinton denies handling classified information in her private emails.

The former secretary of state said she set up the email address for reasons of convenience.

However, a state department inquiry accused Hillary Clinton and other former US secretaries of state of poorly managing email security.

The Justice Department is now seeking to establish whether this constitutes a criminal offence.

On July 1, the US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said she would accept the findings of the FBI and prosecutors, when deciding whether to charge Hillary Clinton.

On June 30, it was revealed that Loretta Lynch had met former President Bill Clinton in what she described as a “social” meeting but which she admitted would “cast a shadow” over the way her role in the case would be perceived.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has agreed to hand over to the FBI the private email server that she used on duty.

Hillary Clinton’s use of private email has generated a barrage of criticism as she runs for president.

Critics say that her set-up was unsecure, contrary to government policy and designed to shield her communications from oversight.

The FBI is investigating whether classified information was improperly sent via the server and stored there.

Hillary Clinton initially handed over thousands of pages of emails to the state department, but not the server.

Her lawyers will also hand over to the FBI memory sticks which contain the copies of the emails.Hillary Clinton private email server

Hillary Clinton’s use of private email has been a major issue in the presidential race. Polls show an increasing number of voters view her as “untrustworthy” due in part to the questions surrounding her email use.

Under US federal law, officials’ correspondence is considered to be US government property.

Government employees are encouraged to use government email accounts although some top officials have used personal accounts in the past.

In March, Hillary Clinton said she and her lawyers made the decision over what would be considered work-related email when the state department asked for records from former secretaries of state.

The emails deemed work-related were about half of the 60,000 emails she sent in total during her time in office. The emails she deemed personal were deleted, Hillary Clinton said.

Since then, the state department has been releasing the emails to the public in batches about once a month.

On August 11, the state department said it would not be releasing a portion of Hillary Clinton’s emails because some of the messages were retroactively determined to be “top secret”.

FBI director James Comey says the bureau is confident that North Korea was behind the Sony Pictures cyber-attack last year because the hackers “got sloppy”.

James Comey said the group posted material from servers used exclusively by the North Koreans.

November’s attack on Sony Pictures saw the leak of sensitive documents, and film The Interview briefly shelved.

Cyber security experts have been skeptical about the FBI’s assertion North Korea was to blame.

Sony’s decision to temporarily cancel The Interview‘s release was described by President Barack Obama as “a mistake”. Sony later released the film in independent cinemas and also distributed it online.

The Interview‘s plot revolves around a plan to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.Sony Pictures attack The Interview

Pyongyang has denied being behind the cyber-attack, but described it as a “righteous deed”.

In retaliation, the US has placed sanctions on three North Korean organizations and 10 individuals.

The sanctions are believed to be the first time the US has moved to punish any country for cyber-attacks on a US company.

James Comey had been addressing delegates at the International Conference on Cyber Security in New York.

He said there was evidence the hackers had used proxy servers in an attempt to disguise the attack’s origins, but sometimes neglected to do so, revealing, the FBI believes, the true location.

However, experts remain unconvinced that the US has proved its case.

“To be frank, director Comey has not revealed anything new,” said Brian Honan, a security researcher.

“Various IP addresses have been associated with this attack, from a hotel in Taiwan to IP addresses in Japan.

“Any IP address connected to the internet can be compromised and used by attackers.”

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The FBI is investigating the hanging death of Lennon Lacy, a black teenager from North Carolina, previously ruled a suicide.

Lennon Lacy, 17, was found hanging in a trailer park in Bladenboro, North Carolina, in August.

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed that the agency was reviewing the investigation into his death “at the request” of the local federal prosecutor.

The state medical examiner initially ruled it a suicide based on reports from the police and the county coroner.

Lennon Lacy’s mother wrote an article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper in which she said the police failed to fully investigate her son’s death, including not asking why he “was found with a pair of white sneakers on his feet that he didn’t own and were two sizes too small for him”.

His family and the North Carolina chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have called for a federal investigation into his death and is holding a rally on December 13.Lennon Lacy's death

The Reverend William Barber, president of the NAACP chapter told the Associated Press that many questions surrounding Lennon Lacy’s death remain unanswered, including why he was found hanging from a belt he did not own.

“We don’t know what happened that terrible night,” Rev William Barber said.

An FBI spokeswoman said agents had addressed all viable leads and a district attorney had previously said he had seen no evidence of foul play.

Lennon Lacy’s told AP she could not believe her son killed himself.

“When I saw him, I just knew automatically he didn’t do that to himself,” she said on December 8.

“I know my child. As a mother, I would have sensed if something was wrong to the point that he was going to harm himself.”

Silk Road 2.0 and other 400 dark net sites operating on the Tor network have been shut down in a joint operation between Europol’s cybercrime centre and the FBI.

Tor network is a part of the internet unreachable via traditional search engines.

The joint operation between 16 European countries and the US saw 17 arrests.

Tor is home to thousands of illegal marketplaces, trading in drugs, child abuse images as well as sites for extremist groups.

Experts believe the shutdown represents a breakthrough for fighting cybercrime.

Among those arrested was Blake Benthall, who is said to have been behind Silk Road 2.0, a marketplace for the buying and selling of illegal drugs.

Silk Road 2.0 launched in October 2013 after the original Silk Road site was shut down and its alleged owner arrested.

The operation also saw the seizure of Bitcoins worth approximately $1 million.

“Today we have demonstrated that, together, we are able to efficiently remove vital criminal infrastructures that are supporting serious organized crime,” said Troels Oerting, head of Europol’s European cybercrime centre.

Silk Road 2.0 and other 400 dark net sites operating on the Tor network have been shut down in a joint operation between Europol's cybercrime centre and the FBI

Silk Road 2.0 and other 400 dark net sites operating on the Tor network have been shut down in a joint operation between Europol’s cybercrime centre and the FBI

“And we are not <<just>> removing these services from the open internet; this time we have also hit services on the dark net using Tor where, for a long time, criminals have considered themselves beyond reach,” he added.

The raid represented both a technological breakthrough – with police using new techniques to track down the physical location of dark net servers – as well as seeing an unprecedented level of international co-operation among law enforcement agencies.

The so-called deep web – the anonymous part of the internet – is estimated to be anything up to 500 times the size of the surface web.

Within that experts refer to the dark net – the part of the network which Tor operates on. There are approximately three million Tor users but the number of sites may be smaller.

Alan Woodward, a security consultant who advises Europol, said that the shutdown represents a new era in the fight against cybercrime.

“Tor has long been considered beyond the reach of law enforcement. This action proves that it is neither invisible nor untouchable,” he said.

However, Alan Woodward added, it did not mean copycat sites would not spring up, or that the police had thrown light on the dark net.

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The FBI is seeking the American public’s help in identifying a masked man who appears in an Islamic State (ISIS) video.

Dressed in desert camouflage and wearing a shoulder holster, officials believe the jihadist betrays a North American accent as he speaks English and Arabic.

FBI director James Comey says about a dozen Americans are fighting with ISIS.

“In releasing a segment from the video, the FBI hopes someone might recognize the man through his voice and appearance,” the agency said.

It has put a clip of the video on its website, with details of how the public can help.

FBI officials believe the masked man in ISIS video betrays a North American accent as he speaks English and Arabic

FBI officials believe the masked man in ISIS video betrays a North American accent as he speaks English and Arabic

In parts of the video not shown in that segment, the militant stands over men he says are Syrian soldiers who have been taken prisoner at a base in Raqqa province, and are being made to dig their own graves.

He threatens them with execution before the men are shown being killed.

ISIS militants have seized huge swathes of Iraq and Syria and are now being bombarded by US-led air strikes.

Intelligence officials in many Western countries have expressed fears that foreign recruits to the cause of IS could return from the fighting to launch attacks at home.

“We need the public’s assistance in identifying US persons going to fight overseas with terrorist groups or who are returning home from fighting overseas,” said Michael Steinbach, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.

On October 4, a 19-year-old man in Chicago was arrested for allegedly attempting to travel overseas to join ISIS.

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The FBI has announced it has identified the militant in the videos depicting the killings of two US journalists and a British aid worker.

However, FBI Director James Comey says the agency will not yet release the name of Islamic State fighter, so-called Jihadi John, who seemed to speak with a British accent.

UK Foreign Minister Philip Hammond told CNN this week they were “getting warm” on the identity of the masked man.

Jihadi John appears in Steven Sotloff’s killing video

Jihadi John appears in Steven Sotloff’s killing video (photo Reuters)

James Comey did not say whether the man identified carried out the killings.

He said the FBI was able to identify him with the help of international partners.

American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines, have all been killed alongside a masked man dressed in black holding a knife, who speaks to the camera.

The life of another British citizen, Alan Henning, was threatened in the last video.

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The FBI and NSA spied on the emails of five high-profile Muslim Americans in an effort to identify security threats, documents leaked by fugitive ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden show.

The targets include a lawyer, professor and a political operative, according to a report published in the Intercept.

The Intercept is an online news site overseen by Glenn Greenwald, who helped publish many of Edward Snowden’s leaks.

The FBI and NSA said they only spied on Americans when they had probable cause.

“The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans… under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies,” according to The Intercept report.

According to the report – the result of a three-month investigation using classified documents obtained from Edward Snowden – all five individuals have denied involvement in terrorist activities.

The NSA and Department of Justice quickly responded to the report, saying emails of Americans are only accessed if there is probable cause.

“It is entirely false that US intelligence agencies conduct electronic surveillance of political, religious or activist figures solely because they disagree with public policies or criticize the government, or for exercising constitutional rights,” the agencies wrote in a joint statement.

The White House has ordered a review of national security agencies in the wake of the allegations, however.

Faisal Gill is a Pakistani-born lawyer, a Republican Party operative and former Department of Homeland Security employee

Faisal Gill is a Pakistani-born lawyer, a Republican Party operative and former Department of Homeland Security employee (photo ABC News)

“Upon learning of this matter, the White House immediately requested that the Director of National Intelligence undertake an assessment of Intelligence Community policies, training standards or directives that promote diversity and tolerance,” White House national security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said on Wednesday.

“The use of racial or ethnic stereotypes, slurs, or other similar language” is not acceptable, she added.

Several dozen civil liberties groups have also spoken out against the allegations made in The Intercept report, urging President Barack Obama to provide a full public accounting of domestic surveillance.

It is not the first time US agencies have been accused of snooping on Americans. Previous documents leaked by Edward Snowden indicate the electronic files of thousands of citizens were scanned by the NSA.

Last year, Edward Snowden – a former NSA contractor now residing in Russia – fed a trove of secret NSA documents to news outlets including the Washington Post and the Guardian, where Glenn Greenwald worked.

The Congress has attempted to curb online snooping in the wake of the snooping revelations, with the House of Representatives passing legislation to that effect in mid-June.

The measure, added to a $570 billion defense spending bill, would bar the NSA from collecting Americans’ personal online information without a warrant.

Earlier this year the House also passed the USA Freedom Act that would limit the NSA’s bulk data collection and storage of some American landline telephone call records.

Those allegedly spied on include:

  • Faisal Gill, a Pakistani-born lawyer, a Republican Party operative and former Department of Homeland Security employee
  • Asim Ghafoor, a lawyer who represented clients in terrorism-related cases
  • Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor at Rutgers University
  • Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University
  • Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations [youtube J3hsr3q69eU 650] [youtube Hzkqz5fsp18 650]

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said the number of health workers potentially exposed to anthrax has risen to 84.

The count of those at risk of illness has risen from the 75 initially reported on Thursday.

The CDC said researchers in a high-level biosecurity laboratory failed to follow proper procedures and did not inactivate the bacteria.

The exposure occurred in Atlanta at the weekend, the CDC has said.

The FBI is helping the CDC to investigate. The agency said it was too early to determine whether the transfer was accidental or intentional.

Eighty four Atlanta-based CDC scientists were possibly exposed to live anthrax

Eighty four Atlanta-based CDC scientists were possibly exposed to live anthrax

Symptoms of anthrax exposure include skin ulcers, nausea and vomiting and fever, and can lead to death.

Anthrax bacteria live primarily in inactive spores and are found naturally in the soil, but people can ingest or inhale spores, which can make the anthrax active.

Not everyone will fall sick when exposed to anthrax but left untreated, anthrax illness can turn very serious or lead to death.

Tests to confirm anthrax exposure include a blood swab.

Anthrax entered the US national consciousness in 2001, when shortly after the 9/11 attacks, letters containing powdered anthrax arrived at news organizations and the offices of US senators. Twenty-two people became ill and of those, five people died.

In a statement, the CDC said the anthrax samples were moved from a high-security lab to a lower-security one at their Atlanta headquarters.

“Workers, believing the samples were inactivated, were not wearing adequate personal protective equipment while handling the material,” the agency said.

“The unintentional exposure was discovered June 13 when the original bacterial plates were gathered for disposal and B. anthracis colonies [live bacteria] were found on the plates.”

The normal incubation period for anthrax illness can take up to seven days, but there have been cases of illness occurring as many as 60 days after exposure.

Fifty-four of the 84 identified employees had been treated at the CDC’s health clinic by Thursday morning, with two refusing a course of antibiotics. Twenty-seven employees also began the anthrax vaccine.

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The FBI is now helping the Malaysian government’s search for the missing flight MH370.

The agency is believed to be helping the Malaysian investigators examine a home flight simulator belonging to one of the Malaysia Airlines jet’s pilots for clues.

Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah is said to have deleted some files from the computer simulator.

Teams from 26 countries are trying to find flight MH370, which went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board.

The flight was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The FBI, through its legal office in Kuala Lumpur, “continues to engage with appropriate Malaysian authorities and provide support where necessary to the Malaysian government in their investigation of the missing aircraft”, according to a statement issued on Wednesday.

The agency would not comment on the specifics of its investigation, nor what had been communicated to its investigators by Malaysian authorities.

On Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Malaysia was also speaking to US aviation and transport accident investigation agencies.

The FBI is now helping the Malaysian government’s search for the missing flight MH370

The FBI is now helping the Malaysian government’s search for the missing flight MH370

“We are finding that the level of co-operation with the Malaysian government is solid, and we are working closely with the Malaysians as well as our other international partners in this effort to find out what happened to the plane and why it happened,” Jay Carney said.

A US law enforcement official told the Reuters news agency the Malaysian officials gave the FBI access to data generated by both pilots including from a hard drive attached to the captain’s flight simulator and electronic media used by a co-pilot.

But the official stressed there was no guarantee the FBI analysis would yield further clues.

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu said some data was deleted on February 3 from the simulator found at Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s home and that investigators were trying to recover the deleted files.

The acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, stressed the captain should be considered innocent until proven guilty and that members of his family were co-operating with the investigation. Deleting files would not necessarily be suspicious, particularly if it were done to free up memory space.

The Malaysian authorities have said the evidence so far suggests the Boeing-777 was deliberately turned back across Malaysia to the Strait of Malacca with its communications systems disabled. They are unsure what happened next.

Investigators have identified two giant arcs of territory spanning the possible positions of the plane about seven hours after take-off.

This is based on its last faint signal to a satellite – an hourly “handshake” broadcast even when communications are switched off. The arcs stretch up as far as Kazakhstan in central Asia and deep into the southern Indian Ocean west of Australia.

Investigators are considering the possibility of hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or anyone else on board.

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Lonnie Snowden, the father of CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden, has said the FBI asked him to travel to Moscow and see his son, but adds that he wants more details.

Lonnie Snowden said he had been asked several weeks ago about Edward, who is sought by the US for leaking details of electronic surveillance programmes.

However, Lonnie Snowden wants to know the FBI’s intentions, he told Russian state TV.

Lonnie Snowden said his son would not get a fair trial in America and, if he were in his son’s place, he would stay in Russia.

He described his son as a “true patriot” who had “made America a more democratic country” by revealing secret details of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programmes.

The interview was broadcast live, early in the morning, on the Russia 24 news channel.

Edward Snowden has been stuck in transit at a Moscow airport for more than a month as he has no valid travel documents

Edward Snowden has been stuck in transit at a Moscow airport for more than a month as he has no valid travel documents

Lonnie Snowden spoke English, with a Russian translation.

Edward Snowden has been stuck in transit at a Moscow airport for more than a month as he has no valid travel documents.

“Edward, I hope you are watching this,” Lonnie Snowden said in the interview.

“Your family is well. We love you. We hope you are healthy, we hope you are well, I hope to see you soon, but most of all I want you to be safe. I want you to find a safe haven.”

The fugitive’s father also thanked the Russian authorities for keeping his son safe.

“I also would like to thank President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government for what I believe to be their courage and strength and conviction to keep my son safe,” Lonnie Snowden said.

“Like any mother or father who loves their child, I love my son and I will be forever grateful for what you have done, very much.”

Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on June 23 from Hong Kong, where he had made his revelations.

He has requested temporary asylum in Russia, while saying he hopes eventually to go to Latin America.

The Snowden affair has caused diplomatic ructions around the world, upsetting America’s close allies and traditional enemies.

The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, has given Moscow an assurance that Edward Snowden will not face the death penalty if extradited to America, but the Russians say they do not intend handing him over.

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The FBI and Microsoft have broken up Citadel botnet, a huge network of hijacked home computers responsible for stealing more than $500 million from bank accounts.

The Citadel network had remotely installed a keylogging program on about five million machines to steal data.

About 1,000 of the 1,400 or so networks that made up the Citadel botnet are believed to have been shut down.

Co-ordinated action in 80 countries by police forces, tech firms and banking bodies helped to disrupt the network.

“The bad guys will feel the punch in the gut,” Richard Boscovich, a spokesman for Microsoft’s digital crimes unit said.

The cybercriminals behind Citadel cashed in by using login and password details for online bank accounts stolen from compromised computers.

This method was used to steal cash from a huge number of banks including American Express, Bank of America, PayPal, HSBC, Royal Bank of Canada and Wells Fargo.

Citadel emerged after core computer code for a widely used cybercrime kit, called Zeus, was released online.

FBI and Microsoft have broken up Citadel botnet

FBI and Microsoft have broken up Citadel botnet

Underground coders banded together to turn that code into a separate cybercrime toolkit that quickly proved popular with many malicious hackers.

In a blogpost detailing its action, Microsoft said Citadel had also grown because malicious code that could take over a PC had been bundled in with pirated versions of Windows.

The millions of PCs in the criminal network were spread around the globe, but were most heavily concentrated in North America, Western Europe, Hong Kong, India and Australia.

Despite the widespread action, which involved seizures of servers that co-ordinated the running of Citadel, the identity of the botnet’s main controller is unknown.

However, Microsoft has started a “John Doe” lawsuit against the anonymous controller, believing him to use the nickname Aquabox and be based in Eastern Europe.

In addition, the FBI is working with Europol and police forces in many other countries to track down and identify the 81 “lieutenants” that helped Aquabox keep Citadel running.

Microsoft has also started action to help people clean up an infected computer.

Typically, it said, machines compromised by Citadel were blocked from getting security updates to ensure those computers stayed part of the botnet.

With the network disrupted, machines should be free to get updates and purge the Citadel malware from their system.

The FBI has released photos and video of two suspects they want to identify as part of the investigation into Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings.

CCTV captured the two men, one wearing a dark-colored baseball cap and the other a white cap, near the scene.

Shown to the media at a press conference at the Sheraton hotel in Boston, the blurry images show the as-yet unidentified men at the scene of both bomb blasts along the finishing line of the race on Boylston Street moments before the detonations.

Designated by FBI Special Agent Richard DesLaurier as “suspect one” and “suspect two” – suspect one is dressed in dark clothes wearing sunglasses, while suspect two is clearly wearing a white baseball cap on backwards – both are seen in the images with back-packs on.

Making a direct appeal to the public agent Richard DesLaurier asked for any information, however insignificant that could lead to them identifying and eventually speaking to this individual.

The FBI has released photos and video of two suspects they want to identify as part of the investigation into Monday's Boston Marathon bombings

The FBI has released photos and video of two suspects they want to identify as part of the investigation into Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings

The FBI agent also warned members of the public not to approach them if they think they see them.

“We consider them to be armed and extremely dangerous, No one should approach them, do not apprehend the,” said Richard DesLaurier.

“Do not take any action on your own. If you see these men, contact law enforcement.”

Richard DesLauriers said footage showed the suspect in the white hat putting his backpack down at the site of the second explosion just in front of the Forum restaurant.

“We strongly encourage those who were at the Forum restaurant but haven’t contacted us yet to do so,” he said.

Richard DesLauriers said the FBI was aware of no additional threat.

At least one of the Boston bombs was made from a pressure cooker packed with explosives, nails and ball bearings, investigators have told US media. The devices were placed in black bags and left on the ground.

At this point, investigators have been sifting through masses of images, gathered by either civilian fan footage and multiple surveillance cameras in the area.

Anyone with any information regarding the two suspects is urged to call the FBI on 1800 222 5324

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An FBI operation in Miami has recovered a painting which is believed to be a Matisse stolen from a Venezuelan museum more than 10 years ago.

A man and a woman allegedly tried to sell Matisse’s Odalisque A La Culotte Rouge to undercover FBI agents.

Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman, 46, and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo, 50, have been arrested and charged with possession of stolen goods.

The 1925 painting has been valued at approximately $3 million.

The painting depicts a bare-chested woman sitting cross-legged on the floor wearing a pair of scarlet trousers.

It was stolen approximately a decade ago from the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art – formerly known as the Sofia Imber Contemporary Art Museum, or MACCSI.

A man and a woman allegedly tried to sell Matisse's Odalisque A La Culotte Rouge to undercover FBI agents

A man and a woman allegedly tried to sell Matisse's Odalisque A La Culotte Rouge to undercover FBI agents

In 2003 the museum discovered the original artwork had been replaced with a forgery after an art collector reported it was being offered for sale in New York.

A press release from the Department of Justice on Wednesday claimed Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman had agreed to sell the painting for $740,000 after admitting it was stolen.

“Marcuello allegedly admitted to the undercover agents during a meeting that he knew the painting was stolen and offered to sell [it],” the statement said.

The artwork was then brought into the US – from Mexico – by a courier identified as Maria Ornelas.

“Upon inspection by the undercover agents, the painting appeared consistent with the original Henri Matisse painting reported stolen from the MACCSI museum,” the statement said.

According to Reuters, the FBI’s National Stolen Art File database lists five other missing Matisse works, including a collection of 62 sketches.

His 1906 Pastoral was one of five paintings stolen from the Museum of Modern Art in Paris in 2010.

Earlier this year a Matisse floral still life, titled The Peonies, fetched $19 million at an auction in New York.

 

More than 300,000 people worldwide could lose internet access later today as the FBI shuts off servers used by cyber thieves.

The FBI seized the servers in November 2011 during raids to break up a gang of criminals who used viruses to infect more than four million victims.

Victims’ web searches were routed through the servers so they saw adverts that led to the gang being paid.

Many machines still harbor the gang’s malicious code.

The gang racked up more than $14 million by hijacking web searches and forcing victims to see certain adverts. They managed to do this because their servers were taking over a key web function known as domain name look-up.

Domain names are the words humans use for websites. These are converted into the numerical values that computers use by consulting domain name servers (DNS).

When a person types a name into a browser address bar, often their computer will consult a DNS server to find out where that website resides online.

More than 300,000 people worldwide could lose internet access later today as the FBI shuts off servers used by cyber thieves

More than 300,000 people worldwide could lose internet access later today as the FBI shuts off servers used by cyber thieves

The gang infected computers with malware called DNS Changer because it altered where a PC went to convert domain names to numbers.

Since the FBI raids the gang’s servers have been run by Californian company ISC.

Over the last few months, the FBI has worked with many ISPs and security firms to alert victims to the fact that their PC was infected with DNS Changer. Online tools are available that let people check if they are infected.

This has meant the original population of four million infected machines has been whittled down to just over 300,000, according to statistics gathered by the DNS Changer Working Group.

The largest group of machines still harboring the infection are in the US but many other nations, including Italy, India, the UK and Germany, have substantial numbers still checking in with the ISC servers.

These servers will be shut down on 9 July.

The result could be that some people lose net access because the PCs that are still victims of DNS Changer will suddenly have nowhere to go when they need to look up the location of a particular domain.

It might take some time for the problems to become apparent, said Sean Sullivan, a security researcher at F-Secure.

“Initially some domains will be cached which will mean web access will be spotty,” he said.

“People will be confused about why some things work and some do not.”

Other security experts said it might take time for the remaining infected machines to be cleaned up.

“Reaching victims is a very hard problem, and something we have had issues with for years,” said Johannes Ullrich, a researcher with the Sans security institute.

He expected the impact to be “minimal” because many of these systems were no longer used or maintained.

Top 10 DNS Changer infections:

• US – 69,517

• Italy – 26,494

• India – 21,302

• UK – 19,589

• Germany – 18,427

• France, 10,454

• China – 10,304

• Spain – 10,213

• Canada – 8,924

• Australia – 8,518

 

The FBI is accused of “illegally” copying evidence used in a case against file-sharing site Megaupload.

Megaupload was shut down in January and its operators arrested in New Zealand because, alleged the FBI, it was being used to pirate content.

Lawyers acting for Megaupload said the FBI had illegally removed hard drives containing evidence.

NZ government lawyers said the removal was legal because the relevant law only covered “physical” items.

Megaupload lawyers leveled the accusation at the FBI in an Auckland court saying the FBI had broken written agreements covering what could be done to digital evidence.

The FBI is accused of "illegally" copying evidence used in a case against file-sharing site Megaupload

The FBI is accused of "illegally" copying evidence used in a case against file-sharing site Megaupload

New Zealand police seized seven hard drives during raids on Megaupload when the site was shut down. The written agreements said the drives should not be handed to US investigators prior to a hearing to decide how they were to be treated.

However, Megaupload lawyers say that FBI agents copied the drives and took the cloned information back to the US before the hearing took place.

If the copying and removal was done without the consent of the New Zealand authorities it would constitute an “illegal act”, said Megaupload lawyers.

The New Zealand authorities were summoned to court to explain how the FBI was allowed to remove the data from the country.

The government’s legal head said the agreement the FBI was accused of breaking did not apply in this case. He said the relevant document only covered “physical” material not information.

The trial of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and the site’s management team is due to start on 6 August.