WASHINGTON (AP) — Three former U.S. intelligence and military operatives have admitted providing sophisticated hacking technology to the United Arab Emirates and agreed to pay nearly $1.7 million to resolve criminal charges in an agreement that the Justice Department described Tuesday as the first of its kind.
The defendants — Marc Baier, Ryan Adams and Daniel Gericke — are accused of working as senior managers at a UAE-based company that conducted hacking operations on behalf of the government. The men did not have a license from the State Department to provide such services, as required by federal law.
The charges were filed under a deferred prosecution agreement that, in addition to requiring a $1.68 million payment, will also force them to cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigation and to sever any ties with any UAE intelligence or law enforcement agencies. If the men comply with those terms for three years, the Justice Department will not move forward with any prosecution.
As part of the agreement, the three men did not dispute any of the facts alleged by prosecutors.
The Justice Department described it as the “first-of-its-kind resolution of an investigation into two distinct types of criminal activity,” including providing unlicensed technology for hacking.
“Hackers-for-hire and those who otherwise support such activities in violation of U.S. law should fully expect to be prosecuted for their criminal conduct,” Mark Lesko, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s national security division, said in a statement.
Lawyers for Adams and Gericke did not immediately return messages seeking comment, and a lawyer for Baier declined to comment.
The Justice Department described each of them as former U.S. intelligence or military personnel, and said their work for the UAE-based company began after they had left the government.
Baier is identified in a 2019 Reuters news story as previously having worked in an elite hacking unit of the National Security Agency.
The CIA warned in a letter earlier this year about “an uptick in the number of former officers who have disclosed sensitive information about CIA activities, personnel, and tradecraft.”
The letter sent to former CIA officials was signed by Sheetal Patel, the agency’s assistant director for counterintelligence. It described as a “detrimental trend” a practice of foreign governments hiring former intelligence officers “to build up their spying capabilities.” Some listed examples included using access to CIA information or contacts for business opportunities as well as “working for state-sponsored intelligence related companies in non-fraternization countries.”
“We ask that you protect yourself and the CIA by safeguarding the classified tradecraft that underpins your enterprise,” Patel wrote.
Suderman reported from Richmond, Virginia. Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchant contributed to this report.
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