DNC hacker: Lone wolf whistleblower, or Russian saboteur?

Hillary Clinton's campaign manager blamed the Democratic National Committee leaks on "Russian state actors."

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
DNC Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., greeted the Florida delegation at a breakfast, Monday, July 25, 2016, in Philadelphia, during the first day of the Democratic National Convention.

Did the Russian government hack the Democratic National Committee in order to support Donald Trump?

In an interview with CNN, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager Robby Mook blamed the leak of DNC emails on “Russian state actors.” Mr. Mook argued that the hack could be a sign of Russian interference in the US presidential election.

“Some experts are now telling us that this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump,” Mook told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “I don't think it's coincidental that these emails were released on the eve of our convention here, and I think that's disturbing.”

Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has dismissed notions of a secret alliance between Mr. Trump and Russian officials as “absurd.” On Sunday, WikiLeaks also denied accusations of conspiracy.

The leaked Democratic National Committee emails have shaken the party, revealing that DNC officials actively worked to support Mrs. Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primaries. On Sunday, DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced her intention to resign after the party’s convention.

Last month, the DNC hired cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike to investigate the breach. CrowdStrike attributed the hack to two groups – Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear – which are allegedly tied to the Russian government. Two other firms reached the same conclusion, according to The Washington Post.

A day later, anonymous hacker Guccifer 2.0 claimed responsibility for the hack. The true identity of this hacker is unknown, but some analysts suggest that he may have Russian ties.

According to the hacker’s blog, Guccifer 2.0 claims to be from somewhere in eastern Europe. He is politically ambiguous, showing almost equal disdain for both Clinton and Trump. He refers to whistleblowers Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning as “heroes of the computer age.” And according to his posts, he works alone.

“It seems the guys from CrowdStrike and the DNC would say I’m a Russian bear even if I were a catholic nun in fact,” Guccifer 2.0 wrote in a blog post. “At first I was annoyed and disappointed. But now I realize they have nothing else to say. There’s no other way to justify their incompetence and failure. It’s much easier for them to accuse powerful foreign special services.”

In an interview with the tech news site Motherboard, Guccifer 2.0 denies any Russian affiliation, claiming instead to be from Romania. The interviewer attempts to speak with the hacker in Romanian, but receives only limited responses.

The hacker was apparently inspired by the original Guccifer, a Romanian hacker named Marcel Lehel Lazar. Mr. Lazar entered a plea deal in May after claiming to have broken into Hillary Clinton’s private server. It is unclear if Guccifer 2.0 has had personal contact with his predecessor.

Regardless of his origins, based on his blog posts, Guccifer 2.0 appears to be motivated more by fame than by political goals.

“As for the DNC, first, the US election race is one of the most exciting events that attracts people from all over the world,” he wrote. “My hack wouldn’t go unnoticed in any case. And now I have my own fans who put me in a line with Assange and Snowden, so my bet has played I think.”

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