back to article Uncle Sam outlines evidence against British security whiz Hutchins

Court documents filed Wednesday in the trial of British security expert and accused malware writer Marcus Hutchins have outlined the very limited evidence the US government is willing to throw at the case. Hutchins came into the limelight after crippling the WannaCry ransomware attack earlier this year. He came over to the US …

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  1. Blotto Bronze badge
    Paris Hilton

    Open and shut case.

    Obviously guilty

    of something, maybe this, maybe that, but something.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Open and shut case.

      Not sure if irony or sarcasm. Because my stupidity detector is reading "not possible, must be wrong universe".

  2. jbmoore

    Something's up

    His legal firm refunded my donation to his legal defense fund today with no explanation. Have the Feds dropped the charges?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Something's up

      The crowdfunding thing was cancelled when it was swamped by fake credit cards. Another one is coming next week, we're told by his legal team.

      C.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        Re: Something's up

        I wouldn't be surprised if that was the work of the FBI too

        1. Mark 65

          Re: Something's up

          I wouldn't be surprised if that was the work of the FBI too

          Don't be silly, they'd pay in BitCoin.

      3. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: Something's up

        Please let us have the link when they have legit crowdfunding set up again.

  3. RichardB

    Does he sound like a baddie?

    What's his accent like?

    Seems the merkins believe that anyone with certain british accents and a bit of independent thought must be an evil villain...

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Re: Does he sound like a baddie?

      Like Alan Rickman, maybe?

      1. I Like Heckling

        Re: Does he sound like a baddie?

        Alan Rickman isn't dead, it's a cover up... he's in guantanamo being tortured for his part in the Nakatomi Plaza attacks of 88. :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Does he sound like a baddie?

          He also masterminded the Bowling Green massacre.

          [tin foil hats on]

        2. Solarflare

          Re: Does he sound like a baddie?

          Alan Rickman isn't dead, it's a cover up... he's in guantanamo being tortured for his part in the Nakatomi Plaza attacks of 88. :)

          Every Christmas he is forced to say "Ho. Ho. Ho."

          1. davidp231

            Re: Does he sound like a baddie?

            Either that, or he's trapped at Milliways waiting for the next million years or so for his companions to arrive.

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Does he sound like a baddie?

      I'm going to embrace my Merionethshire accent next time I visit the US.

      1. VinceH

        Re: Does he sound like a baddie?

        "I'm going to embrace my Merionethshire accent next time I visit the US."

        The biggest problem with that isn't your accent - it's that you have the US as a possibility in future plans.

      2. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Does he sound like a baddie?

        Why would you visit the USA? Do you enjoy playing Russian Roulette? (Maybe we should start calling it "American Roulette").

        1. Scroticus Canis
          Trollface

          Re: "American Roulette"

          Russian Roulette is played using a revolver, American Roulette is played with a Colt 45 ACP, every try is a winner! (of the Darwin Award)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does he sound like a baddie?

      Does he sound like a baddie?

      What's his accent like?

      Reminds me of the classic Jag advert

      https://youtu.be/e7gR7EYjcP8

    4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Does he sound like a baddie?

      Here be an observation allegedly noted by Stephen Fry ..... ​"A cut glass English accent can fool unsuspecting Americans into detecting a brilliance that isn't there."

      I can't see it being of any great help to the defence team though, no matter how true it might be, or not.

    5. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Does he sound like a baddie? / merkins

      "Seems the merkins believe that anyone with certain british accents and a bit of independent thought must be an evil villain..."

      I'm not sure we both mean the same thing when we say merkin.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Does he sound like a baddie? / merkins

        I'm not sure we both mean the same thing when we say merkin.

        We'll know the officers are up to no good if (in the transcripts of his 34 hour 'interview') they offer him a figgin.

        It's frightening enough what they do to doughnuts over there.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does he sound like a baddie?

      actually, those of us in the US think everyone with a Brit accent here is doing a comedy skit, until we realize nothing funny was said. I mean, our most exposure to the accent is BBC comedy shows. Evil villain no, Austin Powers or Monty Python, yeah...

      1. GrapeBunch Silver badge

        Re: Does he sound like a baddie?

        Evil villain no, Austin Powers or Monty Python, yeah...

        CANADA would like to apologize to any British person who believes that Austin Powers's accent is intended to be a British accent. Our agent was instructed to make it sound like a Canadian in the television rec room annoying his friends and family with a bit of OTT.

        If any American person thinks that Austin Powers's accent is intended to be a British accent, well, that's the point, innit?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It seems odd

    That their only evidence seems to be based upon statements extracted without representation and a chat log from someone who clearly had an axe to grind. Except for the chat log the rest was obtained after arrest under questionable conditions.

    Is is possible that the Wannacry writer and the unknown chat donator are the same person who may or may not be on uncle Sam's payroll.

    Do they FBI do any "I" at all now or is everything they do now based upon "anonymous" tip offs and using bullying tactics to extract confessions.

    1. Nick Kew
      Black Helicopters

      citation needed

      Erm ... where's the source for the chat logs being from someone? I read this story as referring to chat that had been public, and either archived somewhere public or eavesdropped. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

      Yes, the chat log appears to be the only evidence to pre-date his arrest, so one might expect it contains real substance! I expect El Reg will keep us up-to-date with what incriminating evidence emerges. And whether it's Hutchins or just the Spooks that it incriminates.

    2. Aodhhan

      Re: It seems odd

      If he provided statements without counsel it's because he agreed to do so after his Miranda Rights were provided to him. He has the power at any time to end questioning/interview.

      You making the statement over and over and screaming how he answered questions without representation is a lot like saying a bank robber didn't have representation when he went into the bank and committed a crime; so there is no way he is guilty. Yeeesh.

      This method of questioning is allowed in most western countries (without representation) with answers/statements to be used as evidence in court.

      Instead of degrading the justice system, you might want to at least know the basic 101 facts.

      It's seems you didn't read the court documents displaying evidence provided so far during the discovery process, because there is A LOT more evidence than just interview answers. Such as business statements, and evidence from a 3rd party arrest. Not to mention there is still more to come from multiple sources.

      Given the evidence provided so far, it's likely the prosecutor asked him a lot of questions he already knew the truthful answers to. If Hutchins lied on a lot of these questions it obviously will not be favorable for him.

      Because the arrest warrant was issued after a grand jury investigation and not just a normal police investigation... along with the fact there are multiple sources pointing to the defendant in this case... you may want to rethink your off the cuff, uneducated and ignorant arguments and thoughts.

      You may also want to take note, the British Foreign Secretary isn't making any outcry about this situation. This in no way proves Hutchins is guilty at this point, but his innocence isn't a sure thing either.

      1. Domquark

        Re: It seems odd

        While normally I would agree with you regarding Miranda Rights, you forget that he is not a US Citizen. Miranda Rights do not apply. They could have questioned him for 6 months him if they had wanted to.

      2. Kiwi Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: It seems odd

        If he provided statements without counsel it's because he agreed to do so after his Miranda Rights were provided to him. He has the power at any time to end questioning/interview.

        You've never been through a police/fbi interview have you? For a start, they will do everything they can to not have you get a lawyer, from outright lies about what your rights are, to charging you under terrorism or other acts (no rights to counsel in a lot of this stuff), to use of psychology (yes, strangely some cops are capable of such levels of intelligence!). I've read transcripts of interviews where a young family member kept asking for his mother or a lawyer or someone to be present, and the pigs kept questioning him and telling him that he would not be allowed to see them till he told them the truth1. Now admittedly this case is in the US and the accused is not quite so young, but they use whatever tricks they can and a person who still lives at home with his parents, spending time abroad for whatever, could have all sorts of insecurities those scum will play on.

        And as Domquark said, they may not apply since he's foreign.

        Given the evidence provided so far, it's likely the prosecutor asked him a lot of questions he already knew the truthful answers to. If Hutchins lied on a lot of these questions it obviously will not be favorable for him.

        No. They claim to know, they badger people with "we know what really happened so you just need to confirm it". But in many cases stuff is made up. It's something you have to actually experience first-hand, or see someone you love go through it, to understand just how nasty these scum are and the sort of stuff they do. Very seldom do they have any real clue about what has happened, though they can sometimes employ logic about an event. Of course they have to have the right person as well, often they have someone who loosely fits the description (wrong height, weight, age, skin colour, sex, hair style, hair colour - but they're human and breathing so it's close enough).

        I've even seen the pigs produce what they call "statements of facts" in court that can be very easily proven to contain a lot of false material (eg "the accused was driving his blue Toyota Camino"2 when they have a green Mondeo and don't know anyone who has a blue car), but the courts don't seem to care that if you can prove even 10% of it to be wrong with independent 3rd party stuff (eg traffic camera footage, or bus timetables ("He was on the #15 from Taranaki St to Port Rd at 12:15am" when a) there is no bus at that time, b) no bus on that route and c) no #15 bus anyway) then it's clear the rest should be in doubt, especially the stuff that can't be proven externally.

        I used to believe that in NZ probably at most 1 in 1,000 accused were innocent, maybe a few more were "guilty but not necessarily fully as charged". Today, after it happened in my own family, I would suggest it may be as much as 20% not guilty and as much as 50% are over charged. I am not alone in this belief in NZ, anyone who has had it happen to a family member they know is innocent (eg was a kid at home, sick and in pyjamas in the lounge under blankets in front of family when they were supposedly out joyriding in stolen cars) knows just how much the scumbag pigs will lie to get a conviction. They're not interested in solving crimes, they're not interested even remotely in justice, they're only after convictions. That's what pays their wages, and if they can badger some poor teenager into confessing to something they didn't do, then they don't have to get off their arses and do real work.

        1 Many such cases in NZ despite it being an illegal practice. When the family cannot afford a good lawyer, they can't easily get anything done about it. The police are happy to present the kid confessing to the courts, but will not present the "totally irrelevant" rest of the transcript and can make it difficult for the family/lawyers to get hold of the entire item. Sometimes they'll redact large parts under either our privacy act or another act that lets them do to "to aid in the discovery of crimes" or "to prevent covering up/hiding of crimes" (ie "we're claiming that something he said here might tip the family off to cover up other stuff by other people, so you cannot see it ever". If it can be proved that the kid was there without representation then the case may be thrown out of court, but "the honest cops would never ever consider that and the nasty parents of the even nastier little criminal are just making up stories to keep their kid out of jail where he rightfully belongs".

        2 Yes, non-existant vehicle brands - they just plan to sound good, they don't have to have it match reality or even possibility.

        TL:DR; Cops lie, don't trust their evidence, ever.

  5. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Holmes

    When part of your evidence is based on audio recordings from court or an interrogation that basically ignored his fundamental rights, you know the case is weak.

    Added to that transcripts of online chats, weak again. Unless they can prove chain of evidence with metadata, logins and timings, it wont take much for the defence to have that thrown out either.

    Overall if this was in good ol' OZ you'd expect an absolute grilling from the magistrate for such as sloppy investigation even the possibility of costs being awarded back. But considering it's the US. convicted and 25+ years seems quite likely

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But considering it's the US. convicted and 25+ years seems quite likely

      Nope, he'll be offered a "deal" to work for the government and create spyware for them. It's the only thing that would make this thing add up. They're frontloading charges so they can squeeze him for a "deal" - I hope he has a good defence fund because this case seems weak enough for them to try every bullying tactic known to man.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > Nope, he'll be offered a "deal" to work for the government and create spyware for them. It's the only thing that would make this thing add up.

        Those unexplained lenient bail terms he's on indicate the deals' already done.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      "an interrogation that basically ignored his fundamental rights"

      The trouble with fundamental rights in the USA is that if you're not from the USA, you don't have them. There are a few parts of the constitution that have been successfully argued to apply to everyone in the country (hence places like Guantanamo, which aren't in the country), but most of the protections only apply to US citizens. So while such treatment may breach what you think his rights should be or the rights an American would have in the same situation, it's entirely possible that it was all entirely legal and will easily hold up in court. It's not a sloppy investigation, they just know exactly what they're able to get away with while obeying the letter of the law.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Aodhhan

        The Constitution of the US and each individual state applies to anyone who is in the United States (and respective state), not just citizens. Even those in the US illegally are afforded the same constitutional rights and due process.

        At any time Hutchins could have ended questioning.

        Given the evidence provided so far, it's likely he was originally held because there was evidence provided from multiple sources which provides contrary information to the answers Hutchins provided. Lying during questioning isn't a good thing.

        I'm also betting, that even in the country you live in, statements made without an attorney present can be used as evidence in court.

        I love the ignorance about Guantanamo. First of all, Guantanamo is legally a sovereign part of Cuba. The USA is leasing the land there. Also, you would be quite wrong if you think the respective intelligence agency of most NATO countries don't have a location outside their own country to detain/question [whatever] foreigners/terrorists. You think all the individuals being held on terror plots which have halted before the act by MI5 within the UK are sitting in British jails? LOL

        1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

          The Constitution of the US and each individual state applies to anyone who is in the United States (and respective state), not just citizens.

          http://www.mirandawarning.org/mirandarightsandnonuscitizens.html

          The page above seems to agree with you.

        2. Kiwi Silver badge

          Lying during questioning isn't a good thing.

          If only that were true. For BOTH sides.

      3. rbf

        US Constitution applies to all within the country

        One lawfully admitted of course, as he was.

        Once detained, the mantra is "I need a lawyer"

  6. wsm

    It's a plot

    The authorities obviously don't understand any of this cyber security business and are going to hold Hutchins until he explains it to them.

    Anyone who knows more than the average plod is suspicious. But they can always arrest the better fellow and force him to explain how things work until they can find the truly guilty.

    It's a type of forced labor.

    1. Nick Kew
      Joke

      Re: It's a plot

      Aha! So this story is really just our own government doing the same thing more humanely?

    2. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit
      Black Helicopters

      Re: It's a plot

      Anyone who knows more than the average plod is suspicious.

      In that case I expect my cat to be arrested any day now. And possibly the pot plant in the lounge too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's a plot

        "And possibly the pot plant in the lounge too."

        Just for personal use then?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's a plot

      @wsm; "The authorities obviously don't understand any of this cyber security business"

      In this case, I'm inclined to go with Upton Sinclair:-

      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evidence is so last century

    When in court, the prosecution will make him wear a striped shirt and face mask with a sign hung around his chest that says; "Baddie".

    1. Nick Kew
      Coat

      Re: Evidence is so last century

      Are you, or have you ever been, a security researcher?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Evidence is so last century

        No.

        A true security research professional would also prescribe he carry a giant bag marked: SWAG!

      2. Ivan Headache

        Re: Evidence is so last century

        What? With these feet!

  8. R3sistance

    Pride cometh....

    At this point the FBI must know that their case is literally hanging on a piece of evidence suspended only by a wet piece of toilet paper. The only reason they aren't releasing the guy now is little more than pride, they don't wanna admit they got it so terribly wrong after the case has attracted attention but failing to admit their mistakes just makes it ever so more clear that they really do not know what they are doing.

    Also I do not understand why he is being prosecuted in the US to begin with, if he really committed these crimes, it would stand to reason that he would have performed them while still in the UK and thus should be prosecuted in the UK, this seems like a horrendous abuse of power on all levels and one of the reasons why to this day, I have zero interest in ever visiting the US of A.

    1. sal II

      Re: Pride cometh....

      Haven't you heard about the "special" UK-US relations?

    2. Aodhhan

      Re: Pride cometh....

      I'm willing to bet your country prosecutes the same way the USA does.

      If a crime is committed by a gang in the UK, but the master mind and recruiter of the crime never left his home country of BangGangAstan... you think this master mind can't be extradited to the UK to charged and tried?

      I already know the answer to this... YES HE CAN. Same answer for nearly all western countries.

      You can still violate the laws of another country if the victim is in another country. You can also be tried on similar charges in the country you are physically located for the same crime without being protected by double-jeopardy laws.

      This is seen a lot involving the crimes with the black market, drugs, etc. ...and more so now with computer crimes.

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