National security advisor says Russia will face ‘consequences’ if Putin critic Alexei Navalny dies

alexei navalny
Alexei Navalny appears in a video published by his team on January 18, 2021.

  • The US has threatened Russia with sanctions and other consequences if Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies in state prison.
  • Last month, Navalny said he was going on a hunger strike in jail until he could see a doctor.
  • Navalny is recovering after being poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent in Russia.
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Russia will face heavy consequences like sanctions if Alexei Navalny, a top critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, dies in jail, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday.

“We have communicated to the Russian government that what happens to Mr. Navalny in their custody is their responsibility and they will be held accountable by the international community,” Sullivan said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“In terms of the specific measures that we would take, we are looking at a variety of different costs that we would impose and I’m not going to telegraph that publicly at this point,” he added. “But we have communicated that there will be consequences if Mr. Navalny dies.”

Navalny is serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for missing parole hearings while recovering in Germany after being poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent in Russia.

Last month, Navalny said he was going on a hunger strike in jail until he’d be allowed to see a doctor.

“The right to invite a specialist for examination and consultation exists for every convict. Even for me, despite the fact that I’m not guilty,” he said on Twitter. “That’s why I am urging that a doctor be allowed to see me, and until that happens, I am going on a hunger strike.”

In a more detailed Instagram post, Navalny said he has been experiencing pain in his back, and has lost sensitivity in parts of his right leg and most of his left leg.

Doctors have been sounding the alarm, urgently requesting to see him. They warned prison officials that if Navalny does not receive proper medical care and treatment right away, he could die any minute.

At least four doctors have so far requested to see him. Navalny’s personal physician, Anastasia Vasilyeva, wrote to prison officials that his potassium levels were dangerously high, Insider’s Sinéad Baker reported, which might lead to devastating heart issues.

“Our patient can die any minute,” cardiologist Yaroslav Ashikhmin said, adding that “fatal arrhythmia can develop any minute.”

Russian officials have said prison authorities offered Navalny medical care but he declined it because he wanted to see a doctor of his choice.

President Joe Biden this weekend denounced the conditions Navalny is subjected to in the Russian prison, saying it’s “totally inappropriate.”

“It’s totally, totally unfair,” Biden said.

Navalny allies are planning mass street protests this Wednesday, Reuters reported. The protests, which Russian authorities have cracked down on in the past, will come the same day Putin is slated to give an annual state-of-the-nation speech, Reuters said.

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US officials believe Russia launched a disinformation campaign against the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to boost the status of its own: Report

Pfizer
Oil markets surged in the hours after Pfizer announced positive results from its coronavirus vaccine study.

  • Russian intelligence is sowing disinformation about the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, the WSJ reported.
  • Four foreign-owned outlets are disseminating info that questions the Pfizer vaccine’s efficacy and safety.
  • US intelligence believes this effort to undermine Pfizer is a way to bolster Russia’s vaccine.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Russian intelligence officials are attempting to cast doubt on the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. 

Four publications acting as fronts for Russian intelligence are disseminating information that questions the efficacy and safety of the Pfizer vaccine, State Department officials told the Journal. 

Russia is pedaling misleading information designed to make Americans question whether the US rushed the approval process for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. 

“We can say these outlets are directly linked to Russian intelligence services,” an official at the State Department’s Global Engagement Center told the newspaper. “They’re all foreign-owned, based outside of the United States. They vary a lot in their reach, their tone, their audience, but they’re all part of the Russian propaganda and disinformation ecosystem.”

Back in November, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the country is hoping to distribute its controversial Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to other countries. 

Russia announced a successful coronavirus vaccine in August, but Sputnik V was approved under questionable circumstances. It was released before it went through phase 3 trials. In the United States, phase 3 is a requirement before a drug or vaccine can be vetted and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The rushed timeline led health officials to speculate whether the Kremlin coerced vaccine makers into putting out Sputnik V quickly to gain a leg up in the global race for a cure to the novel coronavirus.

US intelligence officials now believe this effort to undermine the Pfizer vaccine coming out of the Kremlin is another way to bolster the status of Sputnik V, the Journal reported. 

Johnson & Johnson is the latest company to enter the vaccine game. The healthcare giant is offering a single-dose vaccine that the company expects to distribute to 4 million Americans shortly.

Johnson & Johnson, whose vaccine gained FDA approval toward the end of February, said it expects to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of March and 100 million by the end of June. 

Including Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, the United States is now distributing and touting three effective vaccines to Americans. 

Pfizer and Moderna – the two companies whose coronavirus vaccines preceded Johnson & Johnson’s – have efficacy rates of 94% and 95%, respectively. 

Vaccines against the coronavirus have been rolling out in the United States since December 2020, after Pfizer became the first company to produce and receive FDA approval to distribute.

With this third vaccine on the market, the US is expected to have enough doses to immunize 300 million people. 

More than 57 million people in the United States have already received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, while Johnson & Johnson’s requires one.

Last week, President Joe Biden said the US plans to have enough doses of coronavirus vaccines for “every adult in America” by the end of May. Biden’s announcement sped up the timeline to reach this threshold by about a month, Insider’s Eliza Relman and Sonam Sheth reported.

It’s been almost a year since the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Since then, more than 28 million people in the United States have contracted the virus, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Of that, more than 500,000 Americans have died.  

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

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Mike Pompeo says Russia was ‘pretty clearly’ behind the massive SolarWinds cyberattack that compromised US national security

Mike Pompeo
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington DC on November 10, 2020.

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has claimed Russia is behind the massive SolarWinds cyberattack that targeted several US government agencies earlier this year.
  • “We can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity,” Pompeo said on the “Mark Levin Show” on Friday night.
  • SolarWinds said that at least 18,000 of its customers had been affected by the hack, including cybersecurity company FireEye and the Pentagon.
  • President Trump has not yet commented on the attack. President-elect Joe Biden said this week that he would make cyber-security a “top priority” of his administration.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Russia was “pretty clearly” behind a massive SolarWinds cyberattack that targeted several US government agencies, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

Speaking on the “Mark Levin Show”, Pompeo said there was “a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside US government systems,” according to the BBC.

“We can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity,” Pompeo said, NBC reported. “I can’t say much more as we’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified.”

“This was a very significant effort, and I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity,” he added.

The massive national security breach, which targeted software made by firm SolarWinds, was discovered last week but had been going on for months.

SolarWinds said that at least 18,000 of its customers downloaded the software update containing the malicious code that enabled the hackers to infiltrate internal systems.

Among those who were targeted were cybersecurity company FireEye, tech giant Microsoft, the Pentagon, and the Department of Homeland Security.

An office within the Department of Energy, which manages nuclear weapons, was also targeted although officials said that the arsenal’s security had not been compromised.

Cybersecurity experts say it could take some of those organizations years to figure out the extent of the cyberattack and what data, if any, was actually stolen.

President Trump has not yet commented on the attack.

President-elect Joe Biden, who will be inaugurated on January 20, vowed this week that he would make cyber-security a “top priority” of his administration. 

“We will elevate cybersecurity as an imperative across the government, further strengthen partnerships with the private sector, and expand our investment in the infrastructure and people we need to defend against malicious cyberattacks,” he said on Thursday.

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Members of Congress ‘left with more questions than answers’ after classified briefing about SolarWinds, saying administration ‘unwilling to share the full scope of the breach’

SolarWinds
SolarWinds Corp banner hangs at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the IPO day of the company in New York, U.S., October 19, 2018

  • Lawmakers heard from the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in a classified meeting today regarding the SolarWinds hack.
  • A statement issued afterwards said that, “Administration officials were unwilling to share the full scope of the breach and identities of the victims.”
  • President Trump has largely stayed silent in what is being analyzed as one of the most sophisticated hacks targeting the US government in history.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In a classified meeting on Friday, lawmakers from the House Homeland Security and Oversight Committees received a briefing on the known extent of the mass hacking campaign against the US government.

Lawmakers heard from the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

In a statement issued afterward, the committees’ chairs said that after hearing from the Trump Administration, “we are left with more questions than answers.” The statement added that “Even in the midst of an unprecedented cyberattack with far-reaching implications for our national security, Administration officials were unwilling to share the full scope of the breach and identities of the victims.”

The committees stressed the severity of the hack and called for the administration to give Congress a fuller picture. The statement said that the US government’s network defenses “do not match the constantly evolving capabilities of our adversaries,” adding that the committees need “the Administration to tell Congress what resources and authorities they need to ensure this does not happen again.” 

The committees’ chairs called on the agencies to deliver an in-person briefing on Capitol Hill as soon as possible. 

After leaving the briefing, the House Subcommittee on National Security Chairman Stephen Lynch, told reporters, “this hack was so big in scope that even our cybersecurity experts don’t have a real sense yet in terms of the breadth of the inclusion itself.” Lynch added that “there are as many as 18,000 individual entities, both private and government, that have been compromised,” and that vetting would take time.

A Republican member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Rep. Bob Gibbs, told reporters, “I’m not too impressed with the confidence of our cybersecurity people.”

House Committee on Oversight and Reform member Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, said, “There’s a lot more that we don’t know than what we do know. I’m hopeful the government will learn exactly how this was perpetrated on us and what is the full scope of the damage.”

Others shared their disappointment and mounting concern.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said, “It was telephonic and it just didn’t give us what we wanted. They offered to come next week. We said next week? Are you serious? We’ll invite them back tomorrow.”

House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney told reporters, “I am shocked. National security is the number one challenge and responsibility to protect our people. Every agency is compromised…It is serious. It is deep.” 

The hack took place over the course of months via IT management software SolarWinds, which monitors servers in order to prevent outages. Hackers reportedly entered the system via patch updates made by SolarWinds in March and June. Over the last few weeks, virtually every US agency, including Defense, Treasury, Commerce, State, Energy, and the National Institutes of Health were targeted in the supply chain attack.

President Donald Trump has largely stayed silent in what is being analyzed as one of the most sophisticated hacks targeting the US government in history.

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Apple and Google have reportedly banned a major data broker from collecting location data from users’ phones amid scrutiny over its national security work

tim cook sundar pichai apple google
  • Apple and Google have banned X-Mode, a major data broker, from collecting location from users whose mobile devices run iOS and Android, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
  • The tech giants told developers they must remove X-Mode’s tracking software or risk being cut off from their app stores — and therefore the vast majority of mobile devices globally.
  • The move by Apple and Google follows recent reports by The Wall Street Journal and Vice News about X-Mode’s national security contracts and congressional scrutiny over how government agencies purchase Americans’ location data from private companies.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Apple and Google have banned X-Mode Social, a major data broker, from collecting mobile location data from iOS and Android users following criticism of its national security work, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The tech giants are requiring developers to remove X-Mode’s tracking software from their apps or they could get cut off from Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, according to The Journal. Apple has given developers two weeks to comply, the newspaper reported.

In a statement to Business Insider, a Google spokesperson said: “We are sending a 7-day warning to all developers using the X-Mode SDK. Apps that need more time due to the complexity of their implementation can request an extension, which can be up to 30 days (including the initial 7-days). If X-Mode is still present in the app after the timeframe, the app will be removed from Play.”

Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems power nearly all smartphones worldwide, effectively forcing developers to ditch X-Mode, and the policies mark one of the most direct actions against a specific data broker.

“X-Mode collects similar mobile app data as most location and advertising SDKs in the industry. Apple and Google would be setting the precedent that they can determine private enterprises’ ability to collect and use mobile app data,” an X-Mode spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement.

X-Mode is still trying to get information from Apple and Google on why its tracking software is different than what other location data companies – or even Apple and Google themselves – collect, the spokesperson added.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

The moves by Apple and Google follow recent reports about how X-Mode sells users’ location data to US defense contractors, and by extension US military, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies – contracts that have drawn scrutiny from lawmakers who argue it undermines Americans’ privacy rights by allowing the government to avoid having to obtain search warrants.

Both Apple and Google disclosed their new policies banning X-Mode to investigators working on behalf of Sen. Ron Wyden, according to The Wall Street Journal. Wyden has been investigating how private companies collect and sell Americans’ mobile location data to the government, often without their knowledge, and has proposed legislation that would ban the practice.

Vice News reported in November that X-Mode collects location data from users via as many as 400 apps, including Muslim prayer and dating apps, weather apps, and fitness trackers, and then sells that data to contractors that work with the US Air Force, US Army, and US Navy. X-Mode CEO Josh Anton told CNN Business in April the company tracks 25 million devices in the US every month.

The Wall Street Journal also reported last month that the US Air Force is indirectly using location data from X-Mode to monitor internet-of-things devices.

Other private data brokers have faced pushback in recent months for similar sales of Americans’ location data to US government agencies and contractors. Lawmakers are investigating Venntel for selling data to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, who reportedly used the data to surveil illegal immigrants, as well as the IRS for buying data from Venntel.

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