So she was hacked. There dawns the realisation that it was a matter of time, one way or another. When we recently talked about the possibility of her being targeted in this way, in advance of all this, she ended the conversation with ‘μάνα μου εν έσιει τίποτε.’ Her sense that there’s nothing to hide frustrated me (1), not because I thought she should be worried beyond the occasional change of password, but because I wanted to draw her into a conversation about privacy vs. transparency, which she didn’t have time for. Of course her being targeted presupposes a particular kind of hostile intention against her, which in her line of work is nothing unusual.
I find it terribly interesting that Cypriot news articles have so far attempted no reflection on the politics behind the Russian blog post, parts of which they uncritically reproduce. There’s nothing about the Russian extradition politics, and nothing about the hacking politics: first, the leak was shared on a blogspot set-up specifically for this one post, which must have been sent directly to Politis (by whom?!); second, this is probably the third major Cyprus-related leak after Hacking Team and the Panama Papers; and third, this is probably the first hack that specifically targets a single person / a Cypriot public official at such scale (I’m not sure we should count that thing with Anastasiades’ facebook account).
Above I wrote that I find this ‘terribly interesting’ although, in a personal sense, I really wish she didn’t have to go through such onslaught. (Front page corruption headlines! WOW!) This is the latest in a series of impressively sly strikes. In a less personal sense, building on long-standing media-critical frustration (2), I wish the local press had found at least something to say about the Russian blog’s choice of emails for publication, their potential impact on specific legal cases and the sweeping political interests that surround them. My mother’s ability to build professional friendships aside, shouldn’t the headline be something like: ‘Russians Hack Emails of Legal Service of the Republic of Cyprus’ or even more sensationally: ‘Criminal Russian Interests Behind the Hacking of High-Level Officer of the RoC Legal Service’?..
– A big part of my mother’s job is to support, in Cypriot courts, requests for sending fugitives back to the country where they committed an offense. However sensationalised, working in alignment with the Russian state is part of her job description. She literally has to represent foreign governments. For this she has to work closely with officials in the legal services of other countries. I think it’s nice that she’s friends with some of them. She is not, however, friends with people (a surprising number of multi-millionaires) who commit serious (often financial) crime elsewhere, escape to Cyprus, and activate asylum-seeking legal procedures to avoid extradition. Nor is she friends with the local and international law firms that represent them. These are international teams of well-connected heavyweights with serious interests in knocking her out of the game (she’s very good at what she does — people have been telling her to write a book. Now she wont have to!). She works long hours with no dedicated local assistance and limited resources. She builds extradition cases in close communication with the legal departments of other states.
– Years ago, when Google seemed nicer than it does now, I insisted that she use gmail for her work: she needed a reliable and efficient cloud-based system that she’d have access to while traveling. The leak isn’t of personal emails sent from an account other than her official one. These are official emails sent from a gmail account, because access to government email is impossible on the go. And because government information services have crap usability. I steered her wrong. I feel like this is my fault (3).
– Everyone who knows her will find that part funny: she doesn’t have expensive tastes. She places personal and professional honour above all else, and she would never leave any kind of opening for these values to be challenged. Another thing I’ve always found frustrating (4). And yet here we go! What a twist.
– Yes, she would have made the ‘hire me if they fire me for telling you this’ joke even from a .gov account. She jokes like that all the time, it’s a lawyer thing.
– The NGO point is especially interesting: I’ve been trying to get her to start connecting the dots formally, and do something about shady NGO business for a while now. Maybe now she or others will have additional reason to do so.
– The photo at the top of the Russian article is notable: it must have been secretly/illegally taken not so long ago at the Limassol district court.
– Unlike what’s been reported, a friend tells me it’s wrong to conclude that the blogspot was created from Cyprus: blogspot changes the country code top-level domain depending on where you visit the site from.
– According to friends, the use of blogspot and Yandex suggests that this isn’t a tech-community hack. The type of legal analysis provided in the same post also points at interests disconnected from the hacker community.
– She’s just back from a meeting of extradition experts in Strasbourg where the Browder case was also discussed, which seems quite relevant to all this.
Let’s see what happens next..