FBI Offered Bribes to Russian Hacker to Say Trump Ordered Hillary’s Emails Hacked

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Accused Russian Hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin Claims The FBI Offered Him Cash, An Apartment, An U.S. Citizenship If He Confessed To Hacking Hillary’s Emails On The Orders Of Donald Trump

by Ray Starmann
US Defense Watch

Accused Russian Hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin, a 29 year old Russian citizen currently held in the Czech Republic and wanted on extradition by both Russia and the United States in connection with separate hacking incidents, claims that the United Sates FBI visited him and offered him cash, an apartment, and U.S. citizenship if he confessed to hacking Hillary’s emails on the orders of then candidate Donald Trump.

(Note: When it says Hillary’s emails, it’s hard to know exactly if he is referring to the DNC, Podesta, or both.  His letter says Hillary’s emails, and Newsweek interpreted that as Podesta, and The Guardian interpreted it as the DNC.  He would have to be asked what he was referring to.)

Nikulin, who describes himself as an used car salesman, is currently wanted by Russia for (per Newsweek):

“Nikulin is accused by Russia of hacking into and stealing from online WebMoney accounts. The Moscow-based online money transfer system claims 31 million users around the world and Nikulin is charged with stealing $3,450 in 2009, according to the state-owned Tass Russian News Agency.” 


http://www.newsweek.com/fbi-investigation-clinton-emails-russia-hack-607538

Nikulin is wanted by the United States on the accusation of hacking Formspring, Dropbox, and Linked in during the time period of 2012-2013.  Nikulin was arrested in Prague on October 5, 2016.  Just two days later, on October 7, 2016, a joint statement was released by the Department Of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security which accuses Russia of hacking both the DNC and John Podesta:
The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2016/10/07/joint-statement-department-homeland-security-and-office-director-national

Per this Russian news outlet and Google translation, Nikulin tells of the FBI coming to visit him in prison and offering him cash, an apartment, and citizenship:
In a letter sent to the Present Time, Nikulin talks about the interrogations that took place on November 14-15, 2016 and February 7, 2017. Interviewed with the people he identifies as “Agent” and “Miller.” A Russian citizen claims that he was offered to take the blame for hacking the post of US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. All quotes from the letter are published with preservation of author’s spelling.

“In the future, I received a proposal from A [gent]:” You will have to declare that you have broken Hillory Clinton’s mailbox for D. Trump on the orders of V. Putin, you must agree to extradition to the USA, here we will remove all the accusations we will give you Apartment and money, American citizenship “- I refused, soon the” interrogation “was over, the Agent said that they would still come,” Nikulin wrote.

According to Nikulin, this proposal was made to him during the talks on November 14-15. The next conversation took place on February 7, the defendant wrote in the burglary.

“You must say that it was you who broke H. Clinton’s mail that you prepared and penetrated into the democratic network and polling stations on Putin’s orders, you will name the accomplices, agree with extradition, and in America we will solve all the issues, live in an apartment And we will provide for all of you, “- said Nikulin’s proposal, which they allegedly did to him.

https://www.currenttime.tv/a/28478942.html

We now rewind from May 11 back to October 2016 when this was first reported.

PART I – October 2016

October 19 (CBS News)


Police in the Czech Republic have detained a Russian man suspected of participating in the breach of LinkedIn user information in 2012, the company said Wednesday.

Czech police said the Russian was arrested in cooperation with the FBI within 12 hours, thanks to a rapid exchange of information with American officials. The arrest took place on Oct. 5. It was not immediately clear why the Czech authorities waited so long to publicize it.

The man was only identified as Yevgeniy N. in police video of the arrest.


Back in October, they said it was not related to the hack of the DNC:

Multiple CBS News sources in the U.S. said the arrest was not related to the hack of Democratic National Committee emails, which has become a major theme in the American presidential campaign ahead of the Nov. 8 election.


(Snip)

It’s interesting that the Justice Department was unaware of the arrest at the time of this CBS report, considering he was arrested on October 5.  CBS wonders why it took so long to publish it, but one also can wonder why the Justice Department was still not aware at this of this report on October 19:

According to the statement from the Czech police, the country’s judiciary was considering extraditing the man to the U.S., but Justice Department officials in Washington said they were unaware of the arrest or any extradition request.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/czech-arrest-russian-hacker-fbi-dnc-john-podesta-hillary-clinton-email-hacks/

The New York Daily News also reported on his arrest and said the following on October 24:


The U.S. has accused Russia of coordinating the theft and disclosure of emails from the Democratic National Committee and other institutions and individuals in the U.S. to influence the outcome of the election. Russia has denied that.

There was no indication the LinkedIn case was connected to that accusation.


http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/russian-hacker-stole-info-linkedin-dropbox-indicted-article-1.2841002

Interpol had a Red Notice for him.  Even right after this occurred, Russia wanted him back.  Russia’s objection seems to stem from not wanting the U.S. arresting its citizens via extraterritorial jurisdiction:

The Russian Embassy in Prague told Current Time that Moscow will be seeking his return to Russia. Moscow, an embassy source said, rejects “the U.S. practice of forcing the entire world to enforce its extraterritorial jurisdiction.”

Interpol had issued a so-called Red Notice for the alleged Russian hacker, a designation for “wanted international fugitives.”


https://www.voanews.com/a/russia-criticizes-washington-over-prague-hacking-arrest/3559160.html


“The Russian Foreign Ministry and embassy in Prague are actively working with the authorities in order to prevent the extradition of a Russian citizen to the United States,” said Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry.


https://themoscowtimes.com/news/moscow-seeks-extradition-of-hacker-back-to-russia-55933

Russia reacted angrily to Mr Nikulin’s detention, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharovacalling it “yet more proof that US law enforcement is hunting Russian citizens around the world”.


http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/us-and-russia-vie-for-czech-extradition-of-alleged-hacker-1.2879722

Here is video of his arrest.  He collapsed shortly after and was taken to a psychiatric hospital.  They could not explain why he collapsed, but this is relevant because he later is said to be struggling with his physical health while imprisoned:

https://www.voanews.com/a/czech-police-arrest-yevgeny-nikulin-in-prague/3831289.html

The New York Times covered the arrest but has been dead silent on his accusations towards the FBI:

So did NBC News:

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/alleged-russian-hacker-indicted-california-n671046

PART 2 – January 2017

Now we move on to January.  The Guardian has been covering this story.  Here is what they said in January:

Nikulin, a Russian citizen, was arrested in a restaurant in Prague on 5 October shortly after arriving in the city during a holiday with his girlfriend. 

 
The article then goes on to say what the consequences might be:
He faces a maximum 30 years in prison and up to $1m in fines if convicted on charges including computer intrusion, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy, damaging computers and trafficking in illegal access devices.


The article says there is no link between what he did and the hacking of Hillary’s Campaign, but they do speculate.  Gone is that speculation in a May 30 article I will post following this:

There is no acknowledged link between Nikulin’s alleged offences and the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, but his arrest came just three days before the Obama administration formally accused Russia of stealing emails from the Democratic National Committee and disclosing them through WikiLeaks.
 

This article then throws out a bizarre suggestion wherein he would have hacked Anthony Weiner’s Formspring page (despite the fact he was arrested for hacking Formspring not recently but from 2012-2013) and somehow had something to do with Hillary’s emails on his laptop?!!

Formspring, one of the sites he allegedly hacked, was the platform used for sexting by Anthony Weiner, the former New York mayoral candidate and husband of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s closest aide. The discovery of emails linked to Clinton on Weiner’s laptop damaged her campaign in its final two weeks after the FBI director, James Comey, revealed their existence.
This doesn’t jive at all with this being exposed because the Daily Mail found out he started a relationship via Twitter with an underage minor.  The FBI then confiscated his laptop wherein they found that Hillary’s emails had been emailed to the laptop.  The left had a conspiracy theory going, one championed by Russia hysteria conspiracy theorist Louise Mensch, that the 15 year old girl was fake and fake conversations were planted on his laptop by who else?  The Russians.  As we know, that’s a bogus theory, but I saw a blogger and a leftist on Twitter using this article to help further that theory.  Now we know this is false because Weiner pleaded guilty to a felony sex crime.  Note that this paragraph is not included in later articles from the Guardian – certainly not their May 30 article.
 
They then quote someone from the Czech magazine Respekt with respect to Russia’s request to extradite him.  The speculation is more bold than that which was made in other news outlets or made a May 30 article.  It’s interesting that this bloded quote is not included in that article:
Meanwhile, Russia has responded to the American extradition request against Nikulin by tabling one of its own, demanding that he be returned to face allegations dating back to 2009 that he hacked another person’s bank account and stole 111,000 roubles (£1,465).
 
“He was never formally accused at that time. I think the reason is that he was recruited [by the Russian security services],” said Ondrej Kundra, political editor with the Czech weekly magazine Respekt, which has reported that the Russian services offer alleged offenders immunity from prosecution in exchange for collaboration.

There’s intense lobbying in this case. People from the US and Russian side are talking to the Czech authorities because both really want Nikulin in their countries.”

The article then goes into speculation saying he may know the hackers and mention sealed U.S. court documents.  The contents of these will be revealed in the May 30 article.
One theory is Nikulin – even if not personally involved in the election hacking – may know other hackers who were.
 
Fuelling speculation is the existence of sealed US court documents, tabled six days after the original indictment against Nikulin on 20 October but whose contents have not been revealed.
 
“A number of documents were filed under seal, which means you cannot talk about them,” a US justice department spokesman told the Guardian.
His lawyer stated in this article that he believes he is being used in a political situation between two countries:
Adam Kopecky, Nikulin’s Czech lawyer, said his client denied both the US and Russian charges and suggested he had become a political pawn. “My client and myself think it’s a political affair,” Kopecky said.
 
“Given the international situation, when one superpower accuses a citizen of the other of hacking their computers and then the other superpower accuses the same citizen of another crime, it’s kind of strange.”
Even in this January article, it’s noted that his health has been negatively affected and that he was put under “high-level” supervision:
Kopecky lodged an official complaint after prison authorities put his client under high-level supervision that included monitoring his communications with the lawyer.
His lawyer made clear even in January that he would prefer to go to Russia – but only if free.
“He is unhappy about being detained for a long time in a foreign country and about the accusations against him. He wants to return to Russia – but as a free man,” Kopecky said.
 
The money quote is here, though, as the January article says the FBI is due to visit:
Czech television has reported that FBI agents are to travel to Prague to question Nikulin in the presence of Czech authorities. An FBI spokesman refused to confirm that but said the bureau was “aware of the situation”.
They did visit him.  That said, it didn’t say that the FBI had ALREADY visited him once before in November.  That was the meeting where he said that the FBI first tried to convince him to confess.  They did come back, though, and ask him again (presumably after this article).

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jan/27/us-russia-hacking-yevgeniy-nikulin-linkedin-dropbox

PART 3 – April 2017

In the month of April, NBC did a story about the arrests of 6 Russian hackers.  One of these (not Nikulin) claimed his arrest was due to the election:

The Russian hacker arrested in Spain this weekend is the latest suspect swept up in a global dragnet that U.S. officials hope will yield intelligence on Russian government interference in November’s presidential election.
 
At least six Russians have been arrested in Europe on international warrants over the past several months, according to McClatchy Newspapers. The most recent arrest was Friday in Barcelona, where a 32-year-old Russian computer programmer was nabbed.
 
Pyotr Levashov, 32, was arrested Friday. A tweet from the Spanish National Police said that “In cooperation with the FBI, one of the most wanted cybercriminals has been detained in Barcelona. He is accused of scamming and data theft.” The U.S. has charged that Levashov is spam kingpin Peter Severa, who is closely associated with Russia’s most active cyber criminals.
 
According to Russian television, quoting Levashov’s wife, armed police stormed into their apartment in Barcelona and quizzed her husband for two hours. Later in a phone conversation from a Spanish jail, Maria Levashov said her husband told her the arrest was “linked to Trump’s election win.”
 
However, a U.S. official familiar with the arrest said authorities have not yet determined if Levashov was part of the political hacking operation.
 
“It is to-be-determined whether he had anything to do with the WikiLeaks hack or the Russian role in the election. He was being looked at on other cyber issues, so he will be asked about the elections,” said the official.
 
A former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official said the operation and other arrests are part of a broad attack on Russian hackers, some of whom may have information on the election hacking.

The article goes on to list the other five people arrested (Nikulin is one of course).

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/russian-hacker-busted-spain-latest-global-u-s-roundup-n744911

This article indicates that the Russians always want their hacking suspects back:

Russian officials called that incident an “international kidnapping,” but Russian officials always react this way when Russian citizens get arrested on suspicion of hacking in other nations, such as Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Nikulin’s arrest in Prague for the alleged hacks of LinkedIn and Dropbox.
 
https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/spanish-police-arrest-russian-hacker-on-suspicion-of-meddling-in-us-election/
PART 4 – May 2017


Back to May 11, a few weeks before the hearing.  This sets up his concerns:

Moscow said in the past it would do its utmost to prevent Nikulin’s extradition to the United States.
According to the Prague Municipal State Attorney’s Office, both extradition requests are in compliance with law.
 
Nikulin, 29, prefers being extradited to Russia.
 
His lawyer Sadilek said the accusations are based merely on the claims of FBI agents.
He said Nikulin pleads innocent and declares that he is no hacker. “He has never dealt with computers. As far as I know, his profession is a car mechanic. Cars have been his only hobby,” Sadilek said.
 
He said the stay in a Czech custody prison is very hard for his client, especially due to the tightened security measures. “His yard time is limited. He is alone in the cell. It is very stressful for him. He is separated by plexiglass and bars when he has a visit,” Sadilek said.
 
He said Nikulin wants to be extradited to neither of the two countries, but if it is unavoidable he prefers Russia, also because he has a small daughter there. “He is a Russian citizen, he speaks Russian. There is no doubt that he could defend himself better in his homeland,” Sadilek said.
 
Moreover, Nikulin is facing a lower sentence in Russia. The state attorney writes that he may go to prison for up to ten years for each of the suspected crimes. But Sadilek said Nikulin might be sent to prison for up to 54 years in the USA because the sentences for individual crimes can be added up.  
 
In Russia, Nikulin might receive a sentence of maximum eight years behind bars, he said.
Sadilek said the extradition to the United States is inadmissible also because the punishment would be inadequate to the age and situation of his client and gravity of the crime. The state attorney’s office did not take into account that both parents of Nikulin are seriously ill, he added.


The press lined up to come to his hearing:

All participants in the hearing had to undergo security checks and leave their mobile phones, computers, cameras and other video equipment outside the courtroom, court spokeswoman Marketa Puci told CTK.
 
Along with Czech journalists, representatives of foreign media have registered for the event. They include Radio Free Europe, the AP U.S. press agency and British Reuters. Non-accredited journalists are not allowed to attend the court proceedings.
 
There were only ten seats for the public in the courtroom, seven of which were reserved for the media and the remaining three for Nikulin’s family members or representatives of the Russian and U.S. embassies.
 
All seats for the media have been reserved, Puci said.


http://praguemonitor.com/2017/05/12/court-adjourns-hearing-russian-hackers-extradition

The Czech court ultimately gave approval of extradition but this will be pending based on his appeal.

Nikulin’s lawyers say the case is a set-up. They say Nikulin was not a hacker and that his life revolved around buying and selling luxury cars, as evidenced by a 2015 interview to a Russian automobile website in which he talked about his love for Lamborghinis.

Nikulin took part in street races on the outskirts of Moscow where he would fraternise with the children of Russian oligarchs and politicians. His lawyers say this explains why Nikulin’s Instagram account featured photographs of him with the children of high-ranking officials, including the daughter of the defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, one of Putin’s closest confidants. The account was taken offline shortly after Nikulin was arrested.
 
Nikulin’s Russian lawyer, Vladimir Makeyev, said Nikulin was “useless with computers” and, far from being a super-hacker, was capable of checking his email and no more.

The FBI, however, isn’t buying what his lawyer is selling:

Special agent Jeffrey Miller, of the San Francisco office of the FBI, appears to believe otherwise. A 17-page affidavit by Miller, seen by the Guardian, outlines the evidence against Nikulin to the Czech court. The affidavit lists some of the aliases Nikulin is alleged to have used, including Chinabig01, Eugene, Uarebeenhacked, John Pattison and itBlackHat.
According to Miller’s affidavit, the FBI evidence is based on “witness interviews including confidential sources, ISP records, court-authorised electronic interceptions, and other sources”. Some of the electronic intercepts were emails from the Gmail account of Alexei Belan, a hacker on the FBI wanted list for allegedly conspiring with Russian FSB agents to perpetrate a huge hack on Yahoo in 2014. Belan is on the FBI’s cyber top 10 most wanted list. None of the raw evidence was provided to the court.

The affidavit relates solely to the hacking of LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring in 2012, and does not mention any election hacking.
Now The Guardian reports that he claims the FBI visited him and asked him to admit to hacking in exchange for “good treatment”:
However, Nikulin wrote in a letter from prison that Miller had interrogated him in Prague on 7 February and raised the election hacking. Excerpts of the letter were provided to the Guardian by Nikulin’s lawyers, but there is no way of substantiating the claims he made
.
Nikulin claimed Miller demanded he admit to hacking the DNC servers as part of what the FBI is said to have claimed was a nefarious plot ultimately ordered by Trump, and promised him good treatment in the US if he cooperated. Nikulin wrote that he rejected the offer.

The Guardian article reiterates the earlier point that, yes, the FBI was indeed there:
A document among the court papers detailing the interrogation on 7 February confirms Miller and assistant US attorney Michelle J Kane were present in person along with four Czech intelligence officials identified only by their initials.
 
The document states that Nikulin was read his rights, insisted he was not guilty of the charges, and that the interrogation was concluded after just 29 minutes.

Nikulin’s lawyer finds the whole thing a bit odd and wonders why a high-ranking FBI agent has traveled all the way to Prague from San Francisco to read Nikulin his rights and have a half hour discussion:
Nikulin’s lawyer suggested the record of the interrogation was incomplete and that his client had fallen victim to an FBI plot. “Do you really imagine that a high-ranking FBI agent is going to travel all the way from San Francisco just to read this guy his rights?”

Others also skeptical so The Guardian starts coming up with possible theories.
Others close to the case dismissed the idea of an overarching conspiracy, but conceded there were many unusual elements to the case.
One theory is that the FBI is rounding up Russian hackers in the hope they may know others who were involved in the election hacking. A Russian computer programmer was arrested in Barcelona in April.
“My guess in both of these cases is that US intelligence has only now started gathering intelligence about Russian hackers and how they work with the security services, and they want to use these guys to extract info out of them,” said Andrei Soldatov, a specialist on the Russian security services.

This fellow here highlights just how unusual this is.  Why would the FBI travel all the way to Prague for an extradition request of a guy who hacked several US companies 4-5 years ago?
Mark Galeotti, senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague, said the presence of Miller in Prague at least suggested that the case was no ordinary one. “An FBI agent travelling from the US to a third country as part of an extradition request is extremely unusual and highlights that the case is seen as significant,” he said.

Of course the U.S. is still refusing to comment.  The Czechs aren’t either because I assume they want to stay on good terms with the U.S.  I will add that The Department of Justice is now run by one Jeff Sessions who can look into this and comment:
The US embassy in Prague, the Department of Justice and the FBI all refused requests for comment on the case. A number of Czech officials declined to comment or claimed no knowledge, and a source close to Czech intelligence said only a very limited number of people inside the service had been briefed on the details of the case.
Don’t forget, Russia wants this guy too, but The Guardian seems to posit that what Russia wants him on is so minor that perhaps Russia is using the charges in an attempt to keep him out of U.S. hands, noting that Russia filed their extradition request immediately after his arrest, and citing “diplomatic sources,” they claim that Russia offered to do a swap of Czech citizens wanted by Prague for financial crimes in exchange for Nikulin:
Immediately afterwards, Russia filed its own extradition request over a minor 2009 electronic theft. Nikulin’s lawyers admit the Russian request is unconvincing, but say he is willing to be extradited to Russia. The request appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to keep Nikulin out of US hands. Russian journalists have found details of the 2009 case in a legal database, but note that it appears not to have been acted on by authorities, leading to suspicions that Nikulin may have done a deal back then.

There are frequent reports that Russian authorities waive criminal charges against hackers in return for cooperation with the security agencies.

Both Russia and the US have reportedly put diplomatic pressure on Prague to have Nikulin extradited. The Czech weekly Respekt cited diplomatic sources suggesting that Russia had informally offered to swap Nikulin for a number of Czech citizens wanted by Prague for financial crimes.

The conditions that he was kept in and the location of the hearing were “unprecedented,” with his lawyer saying he hasn’t seen anything like it for even the most hard core criminals…even serial killers.
Tuesday’s hearing was held in a tiny room inside the prison, an unprecedented measure which was ostensibly for security reasons but also meant only four journalists could access the room. “In all my 25 years as a lawyer, I don’t remember any cases being tried inside the prison, including serial killers or organised crime cases,” said Martin Sadilek, Nikulin’s Czech lawyer.

Nikulin’s mother, who attended the hearing, declined to comment except to say she was worried that her son “looks like skin and bones” and that she believed the case was political.

All in all, he maintains his willingness to go to Russia but does not want to come to the United States…although it looks like that’s where he is going:
The judge Jaroslav Pytloun ruled that the requests from both countries met legal requirements, and Nikulin’s lawyers said they would appeal against only the US extradition. After the appeals process is concluded, the Czech justice minister, Robert Pelikan, will make the final decision on where to send Nikulin.

Informed sources in Prague said he was expected to send him to the US. An aide to Pelikan said the minister could not comment on the case for now.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/30/suspected-russian-hacker-step-closer-to-us-extradition-yevgeniy-nikulin
Media outlets who covered this:
 
The Washington Times
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/may/11/yevgeny-nikulin-alleged-russian-hacker-claims-fbi-/
Newsweek
The Guardian
The International Business Times (brief mention buried in article)
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/suspected-russian-hacker-extradition-tug-war-between-us-russia-1624019
Fox Business (brief mention buried in article)
 
http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/05/11/czech-court-opens-hearing-on-russian-hacker-extradition.html
CBS News (brief mention buried in article)
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/alleged-russian-hacker-can-be-extradited-czech-court-rules/
New Jersey Herald (brief mention buried in article)
http://www.njherald.com/article/20170530/AP/305309954
Wall Street Journal (I can’t read beyond the first paragraph because I’m not subscribed but who likely buried it in the article if they reported it.)
https://www.wsj.com/articles/czech-court-rules-russian-man-accused-of-hacking-can-be-extradited-to-u-s-or-russia-1496158112
Reuters (who only covered that the U.S. wanted him extradited on hacking but left out that he claimed the FBI offered him immunity to say he hacked John Podesta on the orders of candidate Trump)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-czech-usa-russia-cybercrime-idUSKBN18Q1KY
 
The Moscow Times (in English) covered the story.  Conservative sites like American Thinker, The Gateway Pundit, and Zerohedge also picked it up along with a handful of other sites outside of the mainstream.  However, the other mainstream media outlets, including the uber Russia obsessed CNN, didn’t cover it.  CNN covered his arrest in October 2016 but has not covered the story since.
PART 5 – July 2017

This is the final and latest installment done by the AP.  It didn’t really get any coverage outside of that, but we can look at their coverage which, as the coverage in April did, focuses on multiple Russian hackers who were elected but does raise Nikulin’s claims.  It also brings up two other Russians, one mentioned in the April posting (Levashov), who also indicate their arrests could have something to do with the election hacking:

In the Russian hacker community, Levashov’s profile was rising, too. In online forums, he promoted the idea of collaborating with Russia’s spy services, according to Soldatov, the Russian intelligence expert, who said Levashov spearheaded an effort to knock out websites linked to Islamist insurgencies in southern Russia.
 
“He was the first Russian hacker known to have brought the FSB into the circle of the Russian hacking community,” Soldatov said, referring to Russia’s domestic spy agency. “His idea was to make it more patriotic.”
 
When Levashov was finally caught, his wife, Maria, drew international attention when she was quoted as saying the arrest was “linked to Trump’s win.” But in a conversation with The Associated Press in Madrid on Wednesday, she pulled back from those comments.
 
“I think there are some political reasons in this case, but I’m not sure,” she said. “I don’t have any evidence.”
 
Levashov’s lawyer, Margarita Repina, offered a similar qualification to her assertion that U.S. officials were “just taking hackers with any excuse to see if any of them admits involvement in the Trump issue.”


“This is just an opinion,” she said. “We have no evidence.”

Legal documents suggest the latest effort to catch Levashov began well before the election. In a sworn declaration, FBI agent Elliott Petersen said he began tracking Kelihos, the latest incarnation of Levashov’s alleged spam botnet operation, more than two years ago.
 
The former spam king was also skeptical that Levashov’s arrest was linked to the vote.
 
“They’ve been after him for a long time,” Ralsky said.
 
Pardon offer alleged
Levashov wouldn’t be alone in floating thinly supported claims that his prosecution is related to the 2016 election. Lisov was also arrested in Barcelona and spent a month as Levashov’s cellmate in Madrid. His attorney, Juan Manuel Arroyo, said at a recent extradition hearing that there was “a game of chess that escapes us” between Moscow and Washington. Arroyo suggested that the American extradition request was “not normal.”
A Spanish court document seen by AP officials suggests Lisov has been sought by the United States since Aug. 5, 2015, undermining the idea of an election link. Arroyo says he disputes the existence of any such request.
 
This next fact about Nikulin is interesting because it turns out that Nikulin’s lawyer wrote a letter to Trump telling him the FBI was trying to sabotage his Presidency:
Nikulin, who is the subject of a conflicting extradition request from Russia, has been the most explicit. He told a judge in Prague that he was twice taken out of prison and offered a pardon, U.S. citizenship and refuge for his parents if he confessed to having “hacked the Democratic Party” on the Russian government’s orders, an apparent reference to the leak of Democratic National Committee emails in the heat of the U.S. presidential race.
Nikulin said he rejected the offer, and his lawyer Vladimir Makeev later wrote a rambling letter warning Trump that the bureau was railroading Nikulin to undermine his presidency.
In an interview at his office in Moscow, Makeev said his client was being pressured by “certain unscrupulous representatives of the FBI that wish to have an impeachment carried out on president of the United States.”
There’s little evidence for that claim.
 
Nikulin was in fact questioned in the presence of an FBI agent from the bureau’s San Francisco office, according to a Russian-language legal document that Makeev shared with the AP.
 
I wonder which interrogation they are referring to – the first?  The second?  Both?  He was indeed questioned twice?
But there’s no indication that the agent — who was one of 10 officials, translators and defense lawyers listed as being present at the interrogation — ever discussed the election or made Nikulin an offer, much less of citizenship. The FBI would not make the agent available for an interview, but a law enforcement official said no such deal was ever discussed.
http://www.nwaonline.com/news/2017/jul/30/u-s-going-after-russian-hackers-2017073/?news-world
ANAYLSIS
There are three possibilities which I will flesh out.  One must come to his/her own conclusions.  They are that he’s guilty, he’s lying, or he’s telling the truth.

(For the sake of objectivity, I will list the following theory and then include reasons to be skeptical of it.)

1.  He’s guilty of hacking the emails (even the government has not accused him of this publicly or a):

He hacked the emails and wants to breed skepticism, so he and said this to get out ahead and look innocent.   He was arrested two days before they announced that Russia did the hack.  Therefore, perhaps they suspected him and he’s guilty.  To add another layer, perhaps the Russian government was involved and told him to say the FBI was trying to pin it on him to help discredit the FBI investigation, accusation, and proof of Russian hacking.  We know that Russia wanted him over a minor theft that occurred in 2009 as I wrote:Don’t forget, Russia wants this guy too, but The Guardian seems to posit that what Russia wants him on is so minor that perhaps Russia is using the charges in an attempt to keep him out of U.S. hands, noting that Russia filed their extradition request immediately after his arrest, and citing “diplomatic sources,” they claim that Russia offered to do a swap of Czech citizens wanted by Prague for financial crimes in exchange for Nikulin.

There is ZERO evidence of theory #1 and despite my skepticism that it was even Russia that hacked, I still feel obligated to point this option out.  Here’s some problems with it:

a) The first thing that makes me skeptical is that he says they wanted him to say that then candidate Trump ORDERED the hack.  As we know, the FBI is not investigating Trump for collusion (or at least wasn’t prior to the Comey firing) because there was no proof or evidence and hasn’t been since this investigation started nearly a year ago.  The only thing the media has was what was (at worst) a stupid meeting taken by Donald Trump Jr which did not prove collusion to hack emails and ended up being a ruse to discuss the Magnitsky Act.  Consider this in light of the fact that there is proof that the U.S. government was unmasking the calls of Trump associates and foreign allies were surveilling the Trump campaign.  Refresher:

Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.
GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.
Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.
 
The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence – known as sigint – included Germany, Estonia and Poland. Australia, a member of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance that also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, also relayed material, one source said.
It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US.


https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/13/british-spies-first-to-spot-trump-team-links-russia?CMP=share_btn_tw

Therefore, if the FBI really thought Trump ordered this guy to do it, Trump would surely be under investigation for collusion.  All of those Democrat House and Senate members asked if there is evidence of collusion by the media keep saying there is no evidence (minus perhaps the Don Jr. meeting that went nowhere).  They wouldn’t be saying that if there was evidence to believe this guy had been ordered by Trump to hack the emails.

Now he could use the “Trump ordered” line to try to discredit the FBI investigation because he knows there are those who are skeptical of Russian hacking story and believe that the deep state is out for Trump, so the Trump component makes it look more like a set up on the FBI’s part.  To go back to the theory – In other words, while he may be guilty of hacking the emails, the FBI tried to blame Trump for it.

b) The FBI obviously wasn’t confident or this would have been leaked to the MSM – either Washington Post, New York Times, or CNN (the deep state trio).  If they suspected him and believe Trump ORDERED him, I think that he would be on the radar of the MSM, and the MSM has overall tried to DOWNPLAY or not report on this at all which is VERY telling.

c) The sealed affidavit against him discussed in The Guardian article reveals nothing about hacking emails, just about the hacks of Formspring, Dropbox, and LinkedIn.  I would have thought if they had proof, that would be in the sealed affidavit.  Although, one could argue they don’t have concrete proof but were either fishing to see if he did it or trying to get a confession.

d) Russia has a history of disliking their citizens being arrested – hating the policy of extraterritorial jurisdiction.  Nikulin was caught in swarm of multiple Russians arrested and accused of various hacking offenses, and Russia does not think the U.S. should be arresting their citizens.

f) He’s willing to go back to Russia, but he’s not thrilled about it and would rather not.  He prefers Russia to the U.S. and would rather go there if he is extradited, but he wants to go to Russia a free man.  He claims the crime that The Guardian refers to as “minor” is a crime he is innocent of and that he never hacked anything – not what Russia or the U.S. is accusing him of hacking – saying he’s a used car salesman.  His attorney is fighting the charges and believes he is being used as a “political pawn” between two countries.  If he hacked the emails for the Russian government, why would he even protest Russia?  He seems certain that he’ll be punished for the crime they are accusing him of if he is to go home.

2. He’s lying and capitalizing on a scandal going on here.  That said, what motive would he have to do this?  

First of all, there is indication this guy isn’t exactly forthwright.  The FBI claims and lays out their proof that he did hack those sites, and Russia is also accusing him of hacking, although it was a relatively small amount of money some years ago.  So if he is innocent of the hackings this is part of a set up, and his denials show his honesty.  If he DID hack these sites and is guilty and is lying, his denials show him to be a dishonest person, and that could certainly carry over into these accusations.  Anyway, let’s explore motives:

a) Perhaps he is trying to be able to stay in either the Czech Republic or next best case, appealing to Russia, by saying he is falsely being accused of a crime in the U.S. – appealing essentially to humanitarian reasons.  He is willing to go to Russia over the U.S.  However, despite being willing he is still fighting and saying Russia is accusing him a crime he didn’t commit.

b) Perhaps he wants attention.  People will make up things to get that, but that one is unlikely to me because of the dire consequences.

The consequence of lying:

You’ve just accused the United States FBI/government of falsely trying to get to admit to a major crime you did not commit in exchange for a bribe, and there is a good chance you will be extradited there.  That just doesn’t bode well for your future.

c) Perhaps the Russian government told him to say this to discredit the Russia investigation AND in exchange for them attempting to get him extradited there.  However, he’s not thrilled about going to Russia either and is fighting the charge against him.  His attorney, remember, says he’s a “political pawn.”  If Russia threatened him to say to it to discredit the FBI investigation, Russia would be highlighting these false accusations, and they are not.  Russia would be saying that their citizen is being falsely accused by the U.S. and demanding he not be sent there.  Russia has stayed quiet, so that would defeat their purpose of generating publicity to discredit the investigation.

d) Remember, there were 10 people in the room, and no one has indicated that there was a deal offered.  We have one anonymous law enforcement agent saying he wasn’t offered a deal, so that is some indication he could have been lying.

3.  He’s telling the truth and he’s innocent:  

The FBI offered him cash, an apartment, and citizenship so they could “prove” their collusion narrative.  They would have a hacker to back up their story.  Now would they have actually given him the cash, apartment, and citizenship?  It’s hard to see that happening.  It could have just been a ruse to get him to confess and toss him in jail.  Perhaps, as the article stated, they aren’t sure if he did it but feel he might know who did, so they are going to try to get him to talk.  (Remember we have other Russians tossing this out there as well that the FBI might be on a fishing expedition, however, they also could be exploiting the situation as well.)  That could lead one to doubt this, but it’s possible the FBI was serious and essentially was offering him immunity.  If so, why wouldn’t he take it?  Because it’s the FBI trying to get him to admit to a crime he didn’t commit.  If they will lie once, who is to say that they wouldn’t lie again and toss him in jail?  If he tried to plead his case after the fact, no one would believe him.

FINAL SUMMARY:

~We know the FBI visited him aligned with the dates that he said.
~There is zero proof of collusion.
~The sealed affidavit was about the hacks in 2012-2013.
~Russia does want him back, but that doesn’t mean he hacked the emails or they are trying to use him as a pawn.  He says he is innocent of the charges Russia is accusing him of as well – he is willing to go to Russia in light of the fact the charges are lighter and it’s his home country.
~If he hacked the emails on the orders of the Russian government or this was a narrative they cooked up to try to discredit the Russia investigation, he would not be fighting the charges from the Russian government and declaring himself innocent.
~If Russia cooked up this narrative to discredit the FBI investigation, they’d be loud and vocal highlighting that the FBI is falsely accusing their citizen and demanding him back.  In order to discredit, it has to have attention.  They are giving it none.
~His attorney seems generally baffled and thinks he is a “political pawn.”
~If he is guilty of these hacks in Russia & the U.S. or both, his denials would indicate a pattern of dishonesty.
~Russia does not like the U.S. arresting their people especially in these times, so that likely explains why they decided they wanted him instead.
~The FBI traveling all the way to Prague for a case like this is rare:

Mark Galeotti, senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague, said the presence of Miller in Prague at least suggested that the case was no ordinary one. “An FBI agent travelling from the US to a third country as part of an extradition request is extremely unusual and highlights that the case is seen as significant,” he said.

~He was tried in a tiny room & is in poor health:

Tuesday’s hearing was held in a tiny room inside the prison, an unprecedented measure which was ostensibly for security reasons but also meant only four journalists could access the room. “In all my 25 years as a lawyer, I don’t remember any cases being tried inside the prison, including serial killers or organised crime cases,” said Martin Sadilek, Nikulin’s Czech lawyer.

Nikulin’s mother, who attended the hearing, declined to comment except to say she was worried that her son “looks like skin and bones” and that she believed the case was political.
~The promise of cash, an apartment, and U.S. citizenship seems like a lot, but the FBI may have been bluffing.
~Levashov and Lisov also seem to indicate the FBI is on a fishing expedition for Russian hackers…if not more.
~The FBI and the MSM are nearly radio silent.  The deep state leaks to The Washington Post, New York Times, and CNN are not flowing on this issue, and these outlets have refused to even cover the story – very telling.
~That said, there were 10 people in the room, and none of them have indicated such a deal was offered.
There is nothing to indicate he is guilty of that crime and no accusations – I never say never, but I generally rule that one out.  I would say AT BEST perhaps they might think that he could know who the hacker is.   So all of this leads me to conclude that either he is making it up or he is innocent.
Perhaps he is making it up to try to say he is being framed, curry favor with Russia, and avoid extradition to the U.S..  That said, he’s not keen about going to Russia either as he maintains his innocence from their charges (although more willing to go there), and this isn’t in Russia’s rationale to bring him back nor is Russia highlighting this case to attack the FBI.  In fact, considering the conditions he is being kept in and the fact that he appears more likely to be sent to the U.S., making this up would not be good for him.  Sure, he might gain some support among Trump supporters, but he’s in prison.  He’d have no idea of the dynamics here.  The one thing that is odd is the promise of cash, an apartment, and citizenship.  That’s where people could doubt this story, but it’s okay for cops to lie, so I would presume the FBI could to.  If they are trying to flesh out the hacker or scapegoat him, they could tell him that and pull it later.  The FBI and media are mum.  There were ten people in the room, the FBI agent hasn’t been made available, but we only have one law enforcement officer anonymously denying it.  We know that if he is lying about hacking in both Russia and the U.S. and is guilty, then that would establish a history of lying.  However, considering the conditions he is in, the high security nature of his trial, and the odd FBI visits, something is odd.  Why isn’t the FBI denying this if it is false?  Why are they saying so quiet?

The answer is that no one knows.  The story seems so baffling, but this story could prove the Russia narrative is nonsense, and it could exonerate Trump if true, so I had to highlight it.

___
http://usdefensewatch.com/2017/08/accused-russian-hacker-yevgeniy-nikulin-claims-the-fbi-offered-him-cash-an-apartment-an-u-s-citizenship-if-he-confessed-to-hacking-hillarys-emails-on-the-orders-of-donald-trump/

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