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Private detective charged with treason in Moscow has reported links to Russia’s leaked-data black market, which investigative journalists use to track FSB agents and more
The 46-year-old man a Moscow court jailed earlier this week on treason charges reportedly worked in Crimea as a private detective and was apparently involved in trafficking leaked personal data.
Reporters at RBC found records indicating that Andrey Naukhatsky worked as a private investigator in Crimea as recently as 2016, and journalist Andrey Zakharov found Naukhatsky’s contact information in Russia’s most infamous online chatroom for leaked personal data.
Writing on his Telegram channel, Zakharov noted that Ukrainian investigative journalists have used Russia’s black market for leaked personal data to find information about individuals in Russia, buying private travel records, phone bills, pension receipts, and more. Earlier this year, says Zakharov, the Russian authorities launched a massive campaign against this black market, prosecuting officials responsible for the data leaks with charges including treason, which carries a maximum 20-year prison term.
Besides offering private data to Ukrainian journalists, Russia’s black market for leaked personal information has also fueled investigative work by news outlets like Bellingcat and The Insider, including a report that tracked how FSB agents poisoned opposition leader Alexey Navalny in 2020.
Though the authorities deny these allegations, the report also led to an internal audit in Russian law enforcement that resulted in criminal charges against several police officers responsible for illegally selling the agents’ air-travel records. In November 2021, three private detectives were also arrested on suspicion of gathering data later used by Navalny’s investigative team.
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