FBI ‘duped’ British cyber expert on computer malware
LAWYERS for a British cybersecurity expert credited with stopping the worldwide Wannacry computer virus have told a US court that the FBI agents who arrested him for allegedly creating malware used deception when interrogating him.
The charge from Marcus Hutchins’s lawyers comes as they try to suppress what prosecutors say are incriminating statements Hutchins made to the agents and later during an interview in jail.
A grand jury indictment accuses Hutchins of creating and distributing malware known as Kronos, designed to steal banking passwords. Hutchins, 23, has pled not guilty.
FBI agents detained him in Las Vegas on August 2 before he boarded a flight home to England and interrogated him for nearly two hours.
The two FBI agents who arrested him testified that he was given the proper Miranda rights and that he spoke to them voluntarily.
However, one of Hutchins’s lawyers argued the agents were not completely truthful with Hutchins and did not show him the indictment and charges he faced until an hour into the interrogation.
“That’s hiding the ball. You can’t waive rights if you hide the ball,” lawyer Brian Klein said.
His lawyers have argued Hutchins did not fully understand Miranda warnings because he is a foreigner and was also sleep-deprived after a week partying in Vegas.
A judge will issue a ruling on the defence’s request for the statements to be inadmissible in a couple of weeks.
During testimony, the FBI agents contradicted themselves about when Hutchins was shown the indictment. One said it was before the interview, but another testified it was much later in the interrogation.
Although the interrogation was recorded, it does not include the portion at the beginning when the agents say they advised Hutchins of his rights.
One of the prosecutors in the case said it is clear Hutchins knew why he was being detained and pointed to a transcript of a jail interview with an unidentified person who Hutchins tells, “I knew it was always going to come back,” referring to the Kronos malware he is accused of creating.
Hutchins’s arrest last August came as a shock because only four months earlier he was lauded as a cybercrime-fighting hero for finding a “kill switch” to slow the outbreak of the Wannacry virus, which crippled computers worldwide.
Marcus Hutchins is accused of creating malware to steal passwords.
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