Three former U.S. intelligence and military officials have admitted providing sophisticated computer 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. Prosecutors say the men provided hacking and intelligence-gathering systems that were used to break into computers in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
The Justice Department alleges that the men committed computer fraud and violated export control laws by providing defense services without the required license. The case also appears to be part of a growing trend highlighted earlier this year by the CIA of foreign governments hiring former U.S. intelligence operatives to bolster their own spycraft — a practice officials have said risks exposing U.S. secrets.
“This is a loud statement” that the Justice Department takes such cases seriously, said Bobby Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law who specializes in national security issues.