Court filing in Russian troll farm case references nude selfie

A Russian company told a federal court Thursday that it believes that among the terabytes of data collected ...

Posted: Dec 31, 2018 3:39 AM
Updated: Dec 31, 2018 3:39 AM

A Russian company told a federal court Thursday that it believes that among the terabytes of data collected by special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is a nude selfie.

Concord Management and Catering -- without providing information on who is depicted in the nude selfie -- questions whether there could be national security concerns related to such a holding.

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"Could the manner in which he collected a nude selfie really threaten the national security of the United States," Concord's lawyers ask in the filing.

Concord's filing Thursday comes amid a drawn-out fight where the Russian company seeks to access what the Justice Department says is "sensitive" evidence in the case, which could reveal national security and American investigative secrets to powerful foreigners.

The company is objecting to Mueller's request to share classified information with the judge that is kept secret and protected from Concord's lawyers' view.

Concord again argues that the special counsel has a "make-believe case" and says its opposition is "likely fruitless" but "object we must both for Concord and every other defendant to whom the Special Counsel believes the laws and rules of the United States no longer apply to his novel adventures."

Recently, Concord asked the judge to allow it to share information US investigators uncovered in the criminal case against the Russians social media scheme with a prominent Russian oligarch and others who perpetrated the alleged crime. So far, the judge has kept locked down as "sensitive "evidence in the case, because prosecutors fear unveiling details of their ongoing investigation and of their investigative tactics.

The company says it needs to share the evidence, which consists of terabytes of data showing a Russian operation to post political propaganda on social media to manipulate American voters, in order to prepare for trial.

One of the company's leaders is also indicted in the case but has not appeared in US court to enter a plea. Concord specifically asked to share the material with him, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who sometimes is referred to as Putin's chef. The company also asked to show some of the evidence to individuals who wrote them, because it is written in Russian, and they say Russian is a complicated enough language that it would be better to have it translated by the people who wrote the words.

Concord has pleaded not guilty to a conspiracy charge related to the social media scheme. Thirteen other individuals and 2 additional companies are also charged in the alleged crime.

Mueller responded to the request Concord made on December 21, saying that to make their argument, they'd like to submit classified material to the judge that's both kept secret and protected from Concord's lawyers' view. They especially oppose Prigozhin from seeing the discovery.

Concord's lawyers and the special counsel's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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