Transparency advocate group releases trove of hacked Russian documents


A group of transparency advocates released a massive number of hacked and leaked Russian documents on Friday in what is being viewed as retaliation against Russia's sharing of hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails to influence the 2016 presidential campaign.

The documents, totaling 175 gigabytes in data, were shared on Distributed Denial of Secrets's website and on Internet Archive around the same time on Friday. The scope of the documents shared is far larger than the total known material Russian officials obtained from the DNC and then-Democratic candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders poised to announce presidential campaign: report Transparency advocate group releases trove of hacked Russian documents Arson suspected at DC restaurant associated with 'Pizzagate' conspiracy MORE's campaign.  

The collection of material, called "The Dark Side of the Kremlin," includes insider information such as “hundreds of thousands of messages and files from Russian politicians, journalists, oligarchs, religious figures, and nationalists/terrorists in Ukraine,” according to the group that posted the documents.

The news was first reported by The New York Times.

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE indicted Russian intelligence members last year for the 2016 hacking of the DNC and former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. 

The Russian government has repeatedly denied hacking the DNC.

In a new court filing last week, the DNC said it was also targeted by Russian hackers after the 2018 midterm elections in November. 

A chunk of the documents include material hacked from Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs that WikiLeaks did not publish in 2016, saying that it “rejects all submissions that it cannot verify” or that it finds “insignificant.”

Emma Best, a journalist and transparency advocate, told the Times that the posting of the Russian files was not done explicitly as payback for Russia’s 2016 hacks and leaks, but said “it does add some appreciable irony.” 

“Our motive is to collect and make available materials for a subject that was very underexplored — Russian power circles, how they interconnect, their influence operations,” Best said. “People have a cursory understanding of that, but outside of a few experts it hasn’t been looked at in detail and contextualized.” 

Best last year helped organize Distributed Denial of Secrets. The site, the Times noted, hosts thousands of leaked documents from multiple countries, and operates similarly to WikiLeaks.   

— Updated 8:30 p.m.