WASHINGTON, DC – Three former U.S. intelligence officers, who went to work as mercenaries for the United Arab Emirates, will pay more than $ 1.68 million to resolve federal charges of conspiracy to violate hacking laws, announced Tuesday the Ministry of Justice.
The three men, Marc Baier, Ryan Adams and Daniel Gericke, were part of an underground unit called Project Raven, first reported by Reuters, which helped the UAE spy on their enemies.
The defendants were also charged with violations of military export restrictions.
“The defendants used illicit, fraudulent and criminal means, including the use of advanced secret hacking systems that used computer exploits obtained in the United States and elsewhere, to gain unauthorized access to protected computers in the States. -United and elsewhere and to illegally obtain information, “said the court document.
Reuters previously reported that Baier was a program manager for Project Raven. Adams and Gericke were operators as part of the effort, helping the UAE hack their targets.
Prosecutors wrote in a separate file that they promised to drop the charges if the three men cooperate with U.S. authorities, pay a financial penalty, agree to employment restrictions and accept responsibility for their actions.
The Justice Department said in a statement that the men would pay more than $ 1.68 million and have been banned for life from future U.S. security clearances. They have also been prohibited from working on computer network operations again and their employment is restricted in some organizations in the UAE.
“Hackers and those who otherwise support such activities in violation of US law should expect to be prosecuted for their criminal conduct,” said Acting Deputy Attorney General Mark J. Lesko for the Security Division National Ministry of Justice in the press release.
Text messages sent to Baier and Adams asking for comment went unanswered. A social media message to Gericke also did not receive an immediate response.
“The Bureau’s dedication to justice is commendable, and I have the utmost respect for the officers assigned to this case,” said Lori Stroud, a former NSA analyst who worked on Project Raven and then acted in as a whistleblower.
“However, the most important catalyst in bringing this problem to light has been investigative journalism – the timely technical information reported has created the awareness and momentum necessary to ensure justice.”
Court documents describe how the three helped the UAE design, procure and deploy hacking capabilities over several years. Their victims are believed to be U.S. citizens, which Reuters previously reported based on information provided by Stroud.
Former program officials previously told Reuters they believed they were following the law because their superiors promised them the U.S. government approved the work.