US spies bilked for USD100,000 by Russian peddling Trump secrets

Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington

United States spies trying to recover their classified hacking tools have been conned by a man they believed was linked to Russian intelligence, who fed them $100,000-worth of "gossip" about Trump, according to the NYT and the Intercept.

In a story worthy of a John le Carre novel that included secret USB-drive handovers in a small West Berlin bar and coded messages delivered over the National Security Agency's Twitter account, CIA agents reportedly spent much of a year ago trying to buy back from the Russian hacking programs stolen from the NSA.

The CIA and NSA were engaged in secret negotiations with a "Russian intermediary" a year ago in a desperate effort to retrieve documents and hacking tools stolen by the mysterious Shadow Brokers collective, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Risen wrote in an for the Intercept, citing sources familiar with the matter. The money was delivered to a Berlin hotel room in September and was intended as the first instalment of a US$1 million reward, according to U.S. officials, the Russian and communications reviewed by the Times, the newspaper reported.

According to the newspaper, a part of the money - $100 thousand - was delivered in cash in a suitcase to one of the hotels in Berlin.

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According to USA and European intelligence officials cited in the report, the CIA was wary of the Trump information touted by the Russian-as the agency didn't want to become embroiled in a domestic political controversy.

USA intelligence officials say Russian Federation interfered with the 2016 election to help elect Trump, and continues to use disinformation to sow confusion in the American political system. But instead of providing the hacking tools, the Russian produced unverified and possibly fabricated material involving Trump and others, including bank records, emails and purported Russian intelligence data, the paper cited the officials as saying.

The US spies allegedly did not want to touch any Trump-related material and focused their efforts on trying to return the hacking tools, either for "fear of blowback from Trump" or due to dubious credibility of those files, both reports explicitly emphasized.

American intelligence officials who spoke with the Times insisted they paid the $100,000 to the Russian operative to get back stolen NSA cyberweapons and were not seeking the supposedly damaging intelligence.


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