Politics 'Let's Chat' State Department Tells Foreign Election Hackers, Offers...

‘Let’s Chat’ State Department Tells Foreign Election Hackers, Offers $10 Million Reward for Intel

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  • The State Department is offering up to $10 million for information on anyone trying to interfere in the US election.
  • It specifically seeks information about Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close Putin ally and alleged meddler in the 2016 US election.
  • Prigozhin allegedly controls and funds the notorious Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency.

In a sign of concern about the midterm political campaign, the US government on Thursday announced a reward of up to $10 million for information about a group of notorious Russian internet trolls and any other foreigners trying to interfere in the US election.

This Offered through the State Department’s Awards for Justice (RFJ) program Seeks information that leads to the identity or location of any foreign person or entity that is knowingly interfering with US elections, particularly anything that could help prevent, discourage, or deter any ongoing or future acts of foreign election interference. is

The award, which is administered by the department’s Diplomatic Security Service, can also be used for information about previous acts of election interference by foreign entities, the RFJ program said in its announcement.

The effort, broadcast via Twitter and other platforms, is part of a broader multi-agency effort by the Biden administration to ensure the security and integrity of US elections, which have been marred in recent years by interference from Russian operatives and other foreign adversaries.

Specifically, the State Department said it wanted information about the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, or IRA, and its alleged main funder and overseer, a longtime Putin ally named Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin. It is also seeking information on 12 alleged associates of Prigozhin and various business entities he controlled for allegedly interfering in US political and electoral processes, including the 2016 presidential election. In a news release announcing the award.

“Do you work for Yevgeniy PRIGOZHIN and/or the #InternetResearchAgency? Want to earn up to $10M? Let’s chat,” The State Department said in one of several tweets Thursday.

Port City, Steel Cage, Palace:Actions that made Putin the ‘richest man in the world’

Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity division, said he expected the bounty offer to have little impact on longstanding U.S. efforts to curb Russia’s efforts to interfere in the U.S. election.

“This is a good step, but it seems very unlikely that they will ever pay,” Rosenzweig said, because Prigozhin and the others would not allow themselves to be caught in a country where the US could arrest them.

“The good news is that he will never leave the country again,” Rosenzweig said of Prigozhin, sometimes called “Putin’s chef” because his restaurants and catering businesses have hosted dinners between Putin and foreign dignitaries.

Also, he added, “the award is another warning from Russia’s bow.”

Meet the 13 Russians charged in the Mueller investigation

Prigozhin, various associates and Russian companies he controlled Wanted by US authorities since at least February 2018 for alleged involvement in a conspiracy to tip the scales in the 2016 election and more recent interference campaign.

That year, Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed criminal charges against Prigozhin and other Russian nationals and businesses as part of his investigation into Russian government influence in the 2016 election and collusion with then-candidate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Prigozhin and the other defendants, several of whom were also named by the State Department on Thursday, allegedly ran a well-funded scheme in which hackers hacked into the IRA headquarters in St. Petersburg, Russia. Created false US personas and ran social media pages And groups designed to appeal to large U.S. audiences, according to a 2018 Justice Department criminal complaint.

The Internet Research Agency was able to accomplish this through what became known as a “troll farm” in the hometown of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

US prosecutors alleged that the “farm” employed hundreds of English speakers who identified as Americans and spent their days and nights engaging in various controversies and conflicts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media websites during the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

The US government has also alleged that IRA accounts were used to advocate for the election or defeat of specific candidates in the 2016 and 2018 US elections – including favoring then-candidate Donald Trump over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

The FBI, which has offered $250,000 for information about Prigogine, says he is the IRA’s primary funder and the person who oversaw and approved its political and election interference operations in the United States.

According to Prigozhin’s FBI wanted poster, those efforts included the purchase of US computer server space, the creation of hundreds of fictitious online personas and the use of identities stolen from the United States.

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