Lawyers choose to sue again over Sky hack: ‘Courts are misled’

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In a lawsuit involving large-scale cocaine trafficking, lawyers again on Friday implicated the hacking of Sky ECC’s server. As a result, the judiciary received millions of messages from suspected criminals. A document is said to show that the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) was not honest about the role of the Netherlands in the investigation into the encrypted telephone operator.

This is the second time in a short time that the prosecution has been accused of misleading judges. Lawyers say this should affect the use of Sky messages as evidence, as is currently happening in many criminal cases.

Indeed, the Amsterdam court would rule on Friday against people suspected of having imported thousands of kilograms of cocaine via the port of Antwerp. The main evidence consists of encrypted but made readable Sky messages attributed to the suspects.

However, several lawyers argued that further research was needed and were given the opportunity to explain themselves on Friday. The crux of the argument is that the prosecution has always said the Sky server hack is a French investigation and that clearance was granted by a French judge. The Dutch judges therefore say that they do not have to reassess the legality of this investigation.

Lawyers doubt aloud the opening of an investigation

However, lawyers Marcel van Gessel, Haroon Raza and Jan-Hein Kuijpers believe the role of the Netherlands has been much more important. In fact, the prosecution is said to have urged the French to investigate. If so, the Dutch judges have been misled and this must have consequences, the lawyers say. “The reality that was sketched out to us then is not the reality of today,” said lawyer Van Gessel.

To back this up, a document was shown in court stating that the Netherlands had already told France in December 2018 that the encryption provider Sky was featured in numerous criminal investigations. The French were made aware that the server was in Roubaix and requested information from the courts via a request for legal assistance.

“It could show that what the Dutch public prosecutor has always said is nonsense,” Van Gessel continued. The prosecution’s account is that the investigation into Sky only started in 2019 at the initiative of France.

The prosecution recently admitted that Dutch detectives had made technical contributions to a so-called interception tool which allowed Sky’s server to be hacked.

The fact that it was always communicated that the interception tool was built by the French was an unfortunate wording, according to the prosecution. But there was never a lie about contributing to development. Moreover, the advisers are convinced that the tool was entirely developed by the Netherlands.

OM frustrated by the situation

According to the prosecution, the document that was handed over on Friday makes no sense – “a loose bag”, according to the public prosecutor. “That the French investigation started with this is a defense hypothesis, but is in no way substantiated.”

The Crown said it would hand over documents from which the justice says it becomes clearer about the Sky hack, so all ‘noise and confusion’ has now arisen, one of the frustrated officers said audibly.

According to the Crown, the lawyers’ requests cause unnecessary delays. “What are we doing here?” sighed the officer.

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