UK & Europe

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UK-EU


BBC: Russian arrested in Spain ‘over US election hacking’

Spanish police have arrested a Russian programmer for alleged involvement in “hacking” the US election, Spanish press reports have said.

Pyotr Levashov, arrested on 7 April in Barcelona, has now been remanded in custody.

A “legal source” also told the AFP news agency that Mr Levashov was the subject of an extradition request by the US.

El Confidencial, a Spanish news website, has said that Mr Levashov’s arrest warrant was issued by US authorities over suspected “hacking” that helped Donald Trump’s campaign.

Mr Levashov’s wife Maria also told Russian broadcaster RT that the arrest was made in connection with such allegations.

Several cybersecurity experts, including Brian Krebs, have also linked Mr Levashov to a Russian spam kingpin, who uses the alias Peter Severa.

 

US mess gets murkier

Claims have surfaced that Donald Trump has potentially been compromised by Russians. These are unverified, and not surprisingly Trump  tweeted “FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”

CNN broke this story: Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him

Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.

The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump.

One reason the nation’s intelligence chiefs took the extraordinary step of including the synopsis in the briefing documents was to make the President-elect aware that such allegations involving him are circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress and other government officials in Washington, multiple sources tell CNN.

These senior intelligence officials also included the synopsis to demonstrate that Russia had compiled information potentially harmful to both political parties, but only released information damaging to Hillary Clinton and Democrats. This synopsis was not an official part of the report from the intelligence community case about Russian hacks, but some officials said it augmented the evidence that Moscow intended to harm Clinton’s candidacy and help Trump’s, several officials with knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.

The two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, according to two national security officials.

The raw memos on which the synopsis is based were prepared by the former MI6 agent, who was posted in Russia in the 1990s and now runs a private intelligence gathering firm.

His investigations related to Mr. Trump were initially funded by groups and donors supporting Republican opponents of Mr. Trump during the GOP primaries, multiple sources confirmed to CNN. Those sources also said that once Mr. Trump became the nominee, further investigation was funded by groups and donors supporting Hillary Clinton.

Spokespeople for the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. Officials who spoke to CNN declined to do so on the record given the classified nature of the material.

Some of the allegations were first reported publicly in Mother Jones one week before the election.

New York Times: Trump Received Unsubstantiated Report That Russia Had Damaging Information About Him

The memos suggest that for many years, the Russian government of Mr. Putin has looked for ways to influence Mr. Trump, who has traveled repeatedly to Moscow to investigate real estate deals or to oversee the Miss Universe competition, which he owned for several years. Mr. Trump never completed any major deals in Russia, though he discussed them for years.

The memos describe sex videos involving prostitutes with Mr. Trump in a 2013 visit to a Moscow hotel. The videos were supposedly prepared as “kompromat,” or compromising material, with the possible goal of blackmailing Mr. Trump in the future.

The memos also suggest that Russian officials proposed various lucrative deals, essentially as disguised bribes in order to win influence over Mr. Trump.

The memos describe several purported meetings during the 2016 presidential campaign between Trump representatives and Russian officials to discuss matters of mutual interest, including the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta.

This is all unverified.

The former British intelligence officer who gathered the material about Mr. Trump is considered a competent and reliable operative with extensive experience in Russia, American officials said. But he passed on what he heard from Russian informants and others, and what they told him has not yet been vetted by American intelligence.

Whatever the Russians have done deliberately or inadvertently, they appear to have played a significant role in the election, and what is emerging is highly embarrassing to the United States.

It has become a murky mess, and it’s quite likely to get worse.

Winston Peters lost in РУССКИЙ translation

Winston Peters is lost in translation nit picking again. Or worse – providing a misleading translation and using it to seek attention to try and get a voter reaction against flag chance perhaps?

‘Worrying incompetence’ in flag pamphlets – Peters

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said today the Russian text in a pamphlet accompanying voting papers “twists the meaning to again promote a flag change”.

“The Russian translates as ‘Put a tick next to the flag that in your opinion should become the New Zealand flag’,” Mr Peters said.

“It’s subtle but suggests a flag change; it should read ‘should be the New Zealand flag’.”

Mr Peters said: “The level of incompetence is worrying.”

It’s this level of trying to interfere with the referendum that should worry people. At least  Peters isn’t calling for the votes of Russian speakers to be nullified. He took a swipe at Hindi speakers earlier in the week.

But who did the translation for Peters? Here it is in Russian:

1. Отметьте   галочкой тот флаг, который, по вашему мнению, должен стать флагом Новой Зеландии.

Google translation:

1. Tick the flag that, in your opinion, should be the flag of New Zealand.

That sounds fine to me. A Russian speaker may – or may not – translate it differently, but I have no idea why they might .

Who would think a referendum was suggesting which choice to tick?

Even the wording of the translation provided by Peters looks like extreme nitpicking. Have any Russian speaking voters complained about being confused by the simplest sort of referendum you could get – tick the flag you prefer?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Peters’ plan was to try and provoke a voter reaction against Hindus and Russians.

Turkey peace rally bombed, Turkey shoots down Russian jet

Two disturbing news reports from Turkey.

NZ Herald: ‘Turkey’s 9/11’: 86 killed at peace rally

Two bomb blasts ripped through crowds at a rally of peace activists in the Turkish capital on Saturday, killing scores, in a reminder of the growing conflicts Turkey faces both at home and across the border in war-torn Syria.

The explosions in Ankara, which occurred just minutes and yards apart, killed 86 people and injured 186 more as they gathered to call for an end to the violence that has flared between Turkish security forces and Kurdish separatists in recent months.

And after Russia had already admitted to flying over Turkish airspace earlier this week:

Russia says Turkish airspace violation ‘a mistake,’ Turkish media report

(October 5)

Turkey said it intercepted a Russian jet that violated its airspace over the weekend.

The country called in the Russian ambassador and lodged a strong condemnation of the violation, Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement Monday.

“The Russian aircraft exited Turkish airspace into Syria after it was intercepted by two F-16s from the Turkish air force, which were conducting patrols in the region.”

A spokesman for Russia’s defense ministry dismissed any idea that the incident was anything nefarious, stating flight patterns that change “under certain weather conditions” might help explain what happened.

“This current incident is a result of bad weather conditions in this region,” spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters. “You shouldn’t look for conspiracy theories.”

Today there are reports that Turkey has shot down a Russian jet.

Russian Jet ‘Shot Down By Turkish Forces After Plane Violated Country’s Airspace’

Turkish forces are said to have shot down a Russian jet after it reportedly flew into the country’s airspace.

It has been reported by eyewitnesses that there was a large explosion in the town of Huraytan, northern Syria.

The Russians – who have announced plans to increase the number of strikes against ISIS targets – have also clashed with Turkey, after one of their bombers violated Turkish airspace.

But neither side has yet said whether rumours of another of Russia’s planes was shot down in a separate confrontation.

This adds to the tensions surrounding Syria and the Middle East.