Wed 15 Feb 2023
image above: Tal Hanan has always denied any wrongdoing. Composite: Guardian Design/Haaretz/The Marker/Radio France
WN: Astounding and utterly tragic!
A team of Israeli contractors who claim to have manipulated more than 30 elections around the world using hacking, sabotage and automated disinformation on social media has been exposed in a new investigation.
The unit is run by Tal Hanan, a 50-year-old former Israeli special forces operative who now works privately using the pseudonym “Jorge”, and appears to have been working under the radar in elections in various countries for more than two decades.
He is being unmasked by an international consortium of journalists. Hanan and his unit, which uses the codename “Team Jorge”, have been exposed by undercover footage and documents leaked to the Guardian.
Hanan did not respond to detailed questions about Team Jorge’s activities and methods but said: “I deny any wrongdoing.”
Hanan told the undercover reporters that his services, which others describe as “black ops”, were available to intelligence agencies, political campaigns and private companies that wanted to secretly manipulate public opinion. He said they had been used across Africa, South and Central America, the US and Europe.
One of Team Jorge’s key services is a sophisticated software package, Advanced Impact Media Solutions, or Aims. It controls a vast army of thousands of fake social media profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Telegram, Gmail, Instagram and YouTube. Some avatars even have Amazon accounts with credit cards, bitcoin wallets and Airbnb accounts.
The consortium of journalists that investigated Team Jorge includes reporters from 30 outlets including Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País. The project, part of a wider investigation into the disinformation industry, has been coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a French nonprofit whose mission is to pursue the work of assassinated, threatened or jailed reporters.
Please click on: The Hacking and Disinformation Team Meddling in Elections