Report: U.S. not responsible for hacking Putin adviser, but emails are legit



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An Outlook email account supposedly belonging to one of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s top advisers was reportedly breached by a group of Ukrainian hackers calling themselves CyberHunta. On Tuesday, the group dumped more than a gigabyte worth of his emails onto the public internet.

The cache of 2,337 emails leaked from Vladislav Surkov’s email account detail extensive communications had between Russian officials and separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine during the annexation of Crimea.

Private conversations revealed in the breach confirm statements previously made by U.S. defense and intelligence officials — dating as far back as early 2014 — accusing the Russian government of supporting several prominent separatist groups. 

Surkov’s email account was managed by his assistants, according to the Associated Press.

Senior intelligence officials tell NBC News’ Robert Windrem that the U.S. had “no role” in the hack; adding that the content of the emails appear authentic.

Documents made public because of the hack also note secret plans to destabilize the Ukrainian government next month in an effort to capture territory in an eastern region of Ukraine name Donbass. Kremlin spokespeople dispute the authenticity of the uncovered messages, claiming that Surkov does not use email.

Analysis conducted by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab suggests that at least some of the emails leaked by the hackers are legitimate. Ukraine’s National Security Service also say they believe the emails are real.

The Associated Press tracked down two individuals whose emails are included in the leak; Russian journalist Svetlana Babaeva and businessmen Evgeny Chichivarkin say that they sent emails to Surkov’s office which now appear in the recent dump. 

On a website registered roughly one year ago, according to public records available through the U.S. privacy protection service, CyberHunta claims it opposes “foreign aggression” and promise to “extract and analyze” more emails from high-level Russian officials.

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DNC hack, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Security Agency (NSA), NBC News, Russia, Vladimir Putin