Imran Awan is a former Democratic aide who is blamed by US conservative circles to be the actual source of the 2016 hacks.
New Delhi: A “Pakistani mystery man” US President Donald Trump cites repeatedly to question claims of Russian meddling in the 2016 election made an appearance once again Monday at his press conference with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
“The servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC (Democratic National Committee) are missing,” said Trump, invoking a conspiracy theory propounded by the American Right — that it was not the Russians, but a man of south Asian origin who actually hacked the servers and leaked the emails published by WikiLeaks in 2016.
Imran Awan, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, is a former Democrat congressional aide recently charged with loan fraud along with his wife Hina Alvi.
Contrary to Trump’s claims, however, 38-year-old Awan never worked for the DNC, the formal governing body of the Democratic Party. He was just an aide to former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a member of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the American parliament.
The 2016 hacking of the DNC servers is seen as the first of many alleged Russian attempts to sway the presidential race in favour of Trump. It led to the leaks of several emails that highlighted a preference among the Democrat brass on their presidential nominee and a possible bid to undercut Bernie Sanders’ claim in favour of former first lady Hillary Clinton. Twelve Russians, all members of an intelligence agency, were indicted in connection with a series of hacks pertaining to the 2016 election last week.
The claims of Awan’s involvement in the hacking were recently debunked by the US department of justice, after an investigation absolved him of spying charges even as he was held guilty of loan fraud.
Awan and Alvi, also a former Democrat house staffer, are accused of lying on a loan form and wiring part of the payment to Pakistan, reportedly for a piece of property.
Man at centre of conspiracy theory
Awan, a US citizen since 2004, has served as an aide to several Democrats in the House of Representatives.
He came to the US with his family as a 17-year-old. After his family was given green cards through a lottery system, Awan worked at a fast-food restaurant before joining a college in the US city of Baltimore to pursue a course in information technology.
After becoming a US citizen in 2004, he worked part-time as an IT specialist for several Democrats in the House of Representatives.
The charges against Awan
In 2016, US investigators discovered that five house staffers — Awan, Hina, two of his brothers and a friend — accessed congressional servers without permission. Given their Pakistan origin, suspicions of espionage emerged and the case was handed over to the Capitol police (charged with the safety of the US Congress), who were assisted in their police by the FBI’s joint terrorism task force.
Awan’s notoriety in conservative circles was cemented when he was arrested for the loan fraud while flying to Pakistan in July 2017, and it was alleged that Awan had stolen emails off the DNC servers at the behest of Pakistan or Russia.
However, it was found after a year-long investigation that though the five staffers had accessed congressional computers without authorisation, they didn’t have any connection to a foreign government. According to the report, the workers had just used the server as “personal computers” for uploading their children’s homework and family photographs.
In a plea deal with Awan earlier this month, the US department of justice itself included a paragraph to emphasise his absolution for spying charges. “The government has uncovered no evidence that your client violated federal law with respect to the House computer systems,” the department wrote.
Unauthorized accessing federal computer especially congressional computer is in itself a
federal crime is it not? Why would any foreign national (s) do that just to give it to children
to play games? The whole story is a cover up. The absolving act itself is subject to investigation.
In any case if he is Pakistani,he must be guilty of some other crime if not this one.So send the asshole to jail anyway.
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