The three men had worked in the US secret services

Three former US secret service agents have admitted to having participated in a computer piracy operation in the service of the United Arab Emirates, targeting enemies of that Gulf State, the US Department of Justice said on Tuesday.

According to the France-Presse (AFP) news agency, the three men agreed to pay a combined amount of US$1.7 million (1.4 million euros) in financial sanctions, corresponding to the amount they earned in the service of the Emirates, to suspend legal proceedings for violations of US export laws, computer fraud and fraudulent access to computers.

A federal court in Virginia agreed to suspend the prosecution for three years in the case, which highlighted the global computer piracy market, in which governments recruit foreign computer security experts for spy services.

The three men had worked in the US secret services, including the National Security Agency (NSA), before participating, between 2016 and 2019, in cyberattacks carried out by a company linked to the UAE government against several targets, including computer servers in the US, according to the US court.

One of these operations gave them access to “tens of millions” of smartphones, according to the same source. In addition to the financial sanctions, the defendants were banned from the US secret services and prohibited from re-engaging in computer piracy activities.

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