Dutch spies watched as Russian hackers attacked Democrats, beginning the alleged meddling in the 2016 election and the investigations that followed, according to a report.
Members of the Netherlands’ AIVD intelligence agency infiltrated the headquarters of the Russian hacking collective Cozy Bear, newspaper de Volksrant reported Thursday night.
Cozy Bear, along with a similarly government connected Fancy Bear, are believed to have both hacked Democratic targets in the U.S. as part of an effort to influence the election away from Hillary Clinton, the American intelligence community said in a joint statement last year.
U.S. investigators have reportedly been looking into the hacks and the alleged meddling effort at least since they learned Trump adivser George Papadopoulos, who later pled guilty to lying to the FBI, told an Australian diplomat in May 2016 about dirt Russians had on Clinton.
But the Volksrant report says that intelligence in the Netherlands, which is not part of the “Five Eyes” group of the closest U.S. intelligence partners, also shared info with the Americans.
Hackers from the AIVD reportedly had access to the network and a camera at Cozy Bear’s headquarters near Red Square for years, and also saw a hack on a U.S. State Department employeee, according to the report.
Their camera access was said to add to evidence that the hacks from the group were backed by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Agency.
The exact timing of when the Dutch lost access to the Russian network is unclear, though the Volksrant report says that the AIVD that they watched hacks on Democratic leaders.
Last January’s joint intelligence report, which focuses mostly on an election operation run by Russia’s military intelligence agency GRU, said that Russian intelligence had access to networks at the Democratic National Convention from July 2015 to June 2016.
President Trump has dismissed claims of Russian interference to support him, saying that it stems from Democrats’ unhappiness at his win.
His fellow Republicans have also painted the FBI’s investigation of the meddling, and possible Trump campaign collusion, as stemming almost entirely from the “dossier” on the then candidate paid for my Democrats including Clinton.
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