Take this for what it’s worth, because it’s probably worth a lot, even though it’s not yet precisely clear what it means. Last night the U.S. federal government sentenced a pair of Russian hackers to “time served” and let them go home to Russia. Considering the seriousness of the hacking charges against them, this is the kind of thing that only happens if they were willing to fork over evidence so valuable in a much more important case, the Feds simply couldn’t resist.
The two Russian hackers in question are Dmitrii Aleksandrovich Karpenko and Alexey Krutilin, according to Reuters (link). According to the Department of Justice website, they were first arrested in October of last year (link). These two men were not arrested for doing any hacking themselves, but rather for shipping the kind of sensitive computer equipment to Russia that would be used by hackers. In other words, these are low level henchmen in a Russian hacking scheme. But they were facing up two twenty-five years in prison, and now they’re suddenly free instead.
Up to now there has been publicly available information that would tie the arrests of Karpenko and Krutilin to the FBI’s ongoing investigation into the Donald Trump campaign and Russian election collusion. And even now, the only potential connection is that we know the Feds didn’t just let them walk today for no reason. These two men gave up something far more valuable than themselves. Moreover, they had to have given up the kind of evidence or information that is so useful in its own right it won’t require their testimony in any trial.
As a practical matter, these two individuals may well go on to commit other low level hacking related crimes once they get back to Russia, and the Feds know this. So these guys must have given up something really important to receive their get out of jail free passes. Considering last night’s separate report that two Trump-Russia grand juries are underway (link), one has to wonder if these two developments are directly related. Right now Donald Trump is probably wondering the same thing. Contribute to Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report