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Indian hackers were reportedly used by an Israeli private investigator for Russian oligarchs

An Israeli private investigator currently in US custody used Indian hackers to carry out surveillance operations for the wealthiest Russians, a reporter told the court late Wednesday.

Independent journalist Scott Steidman told a court in New York that private prison detective Aviram Azari had “worked on intelligence and cyber-intelligence operations at the behest of Russian oligarchs”, citing a mix of public reporting and intelligence sources.

Steidman said in a statement that one of the relevant Russian oligarchs was an aluminum businessman named Oleg Deripaska, who indirectly employed Azari in connection with a trade dispute in Austria.

A Deripaska spokesman said in an email that the allegations were “undoubtedly untrue.” Azari’s lawyer, who pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to hack and exacerbate identity theft in a separate case, did not return the messages.

Steidmann made the statement in support of a request to subpoena Azari for evidence in a 2020 US-defamation lawsuit filed against him by British-Israeli security consultant Walter Soriano.

In a series of articles for his publication, Forensic News, Steidman mentions, among other things, that Soriano is a mediator between wealthy Russians and intelligence agencies.

Soriano has denied the allegations and sued over the articles, alleging that Steidman was promoting defamation, invasion of privacy and harassment.

Steadman’s lawyer told a New York court that Azari had “worked closely with Soriano for years” to tell “multiple secret sources”.

In an email to Reuters, Soriano’s lawyer Shlomo Rechtzhafen said Steidman’s claims were “false and baseless” and that there was “no evidence” that the reporter had worked with his client and Azari as alleged.

In a statement to Reuters, Steidman said “there is strong reason to believe that Mr. Azari has worked with Mr. Soriano on cyber-related projects for many Russian oligarchs and other billionaires” and that he is subjugating Azari as part of an effort. To protect my journalism and my business. “

Azari is currently being held in a federal jail in Brooklyn and is awaiting sentencing in connection with a hacking campaign linked to a useless German financial technology company, Wirecard AG, his lawyer said last month.

Reuters reported last year that Azari had been accused of hiring Indian hacking firm Beltrox on behalf of powerful clients. BellTroX, which has been accused of being hacked by cybersecurity researchers on Facebook and elsewhere, could not be reached for comment.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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