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The IT director of a leading virtual private network is among three former U.S. intelligence and military personnel fined over $ 1.6 million by the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve piracy charges. ExpressVPN 's CIO Daniel Gericke, as first reported on Tuesday by Reuters , "is one of three former US intelligence and military personnel involved in Project Raven who worked as hackers for the United Arab Emirates, helping him spy on "his enemies . ExpressVPN said its confidence in Gericke "remains strong.
All three defendants have agreed to cooperate with the US authorities and pay the fine in exchange for postponing prosecution, according to a Department of Justice press release . The three have also lost their foreign and US security clearances and face future employment restrictions. The deal comes in a day after ExpressVPN announced that it had been sold in a $ 936 million deal to former adware distributors Kape "Technologies , a co-founded company by a former Israeli surveillance agent and a billionaire previously " convicted of insider trading .
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Learn more : What is what "that Kape Technologies? What you need to know about CyberGhost VPN's parent company
Despite future employment restrictions, ExpressVPN noted in an email to CNET that Gericke was not doing not one of the members of the US intelligence community referenced in the DOJ file, but a former member of the US military, and one that ExpressVPN still supports Gericke's position within the company.
"We knew the key facts about Daniel 's work history prior to hiring him because he
"We were confident then and continue to be confident now in Daniel ' s desire and ability to contribute to our mission to enable users to better protect their privacy and security. He has demonstrated nothing but professionalism and commitment to advancing our ability to keep user data secure and private. Our confidence in Daniel remains strong. "
By Tuesday evening, Gericke's social media accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn appeared to have been removed from public view.
The Raven project, first exposed "in 2019 , involved the development and deployment "hacking and surveillance tools for the United Arab Emirates allegedly used to target American victims and prominent " activists who have spoken out against the UAE's human rights record. Other targets of Project Raven have reportedly included the Emir of Qatar, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and human rights activist in Yemen.
In a statement from the Ministry of Justice, Acting Deputy Attorney General Mark J Lesko, called the deal the "first-of-its-kind resolution" to investigate two distinct types of crime.
"Provide export-controlled defense services without a license to the support for the operation of computer networks, and a trading companycreating, supporting and operating systems specially designed to allow others to gain unauthorized access to data from computers around the world, including the United States ", t he said. "Hackers and those who otherwise support such activities in violation of US law should be expected to be prosecuted for their criminal conduct.
Correction , 11:24 PM PT : An earlier version of this story inaccurately characterized Gericke's previous role in the US government. Gericke is a former member of the US military.