News about DDoSecrets
Five stories you may have missed
We wanted to drop in to your inbox to share the links to some examples of journalism that recently used data from the DDoSecrets library. We will often publish these sorts of research links to a Twitter feed, or to our Mastodon, and now we have a new Bluesky profile, too (if you are on that app, look up @ddosecrets.com). We like to eventually add all the links to people using our data to the Research section in the index articles on our website. Remember you can always donate to DDoSecrets to help us to expand our wiki.
Our data has been used recently in the following ways:
The U.S. teacher’s pension investment fund, the TIAA, bought land in Brazil from two men accused of land theft and corruption.
One of the first ransomware groups to publish data from their hacking and extortion attacks was Nefilim. Using our ransomware section, where we archive the data that groups like Nefilim have published, the OCCRP investigated Brazilian sugar company Cosan and found how this U.S. teacher’s pension fund started investing in land-grabbing starting in 2007, using a complex web of shell companies to bypass Brazilian laws against foreign ownership of farmland. Allegations of bribery, corruption, displacement of small land-owners, and the murders of witnesses are just some of the crimes linked to this dataset, which documents how U.S. financing contributes to habitat collapse, deforestation, and the global ecological disaster.
We will announce new datasets in our ransomware section soon.
The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, for war crimes in Ukraine. Putin and Lvova-Belova stand accused of “unlawful deportation of (children) and that of unlawful transfer of (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation,” in violation of the Rome Statute. Lvova-Belova wrote to her Telegram channel recently: “Today, when we are again faced with manifestations of Nazism and war crimes against civilians, when we stand up again to protect our native borders,” in reference to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While there have been multiple attempts to document this war crime in progress, one of the earliest stories to cover the mass displacement of Ukranian children came from Slidstvo, and was based on their research of the April 2022 Russian Orthodox leak from DDoSecrets.
Maria Lvova-Belova’s name and email address appear frequently in the limited distribution Russian Orthodox leak and also in the public access VGTRK leak. Another effect of this was that Vladimir Putin was disinvited from the August 2023 BRICS conference in South Africa, because South Africa is a signatory of the Rome Statute.
Speaking of war criminals, The Wagner Group’s owner Yevgeny Prigozhin was featured in a Financial Times financial story about his daughter’s showjumping horses, and his mother’s late-in-life reinvention as an art dealer. This new story expands on an earlier report from the same newspaper investigating the Capital Legal Services dataset, which contains emails from the Wagner group’s lawyers.
As sanctions tighten and regulators pay attention to a wider variety of high cost items that oligarchs use to stash their money, like luxury yachts, real estate and art collectibles, people like Prigozhin have had to get creative in how they hide and protect their profits. Show-jumping horses can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and “Russian corporate records show how Prigozhin’s children have all held shares in their father’s companies,” according to the reporting. The young jockey Veronika Prigozhina, riding the gelding Dithara, competing in show-jumping competition in Valencia, Spain, is probably not in to this sport for the prize money. She won €50 for placing fourth. None of the horses Veronika or her older sister Polina have ridden in international competitions are registered under the name of her father Prigozhin, at the International Federation for Equestrian Sports.
Capital Legal Services is in our public collection, so anyone can download it from the torrents or from our data server and use it for research. People who would like to search the dataset in our search engine Hunter should get in touch with us and request access to Hunter as a researcher.
The Guardian reported on the findings from the National Security Archive that members of the Mexican military knew about the likely massacre of the 43 Ayotzinapa students, after surveilling the school for years. As revealed by the email archive from the source Guacamaya, the military were well informed of the movements of the local cartels and police in the hours leading up to the students’ disappearance. The Guardian cites an email from April 2014 revealed by the leak, in which a citizen reports the location of a leader of the Familia Michoacana cartel, and asks the military to arrest him. It wasn’t until 2023 that the Mexican military attempted to arrest this person. He escaped that arrest attempt with his brother, and is still at large.
Leak publishing costs
The fifth and final story we are highlighting, is that we require an influx of funding. Donations have not kept up with the increasing interest in our collections. We need to raise $15,000 in the next few weeks. We are already almost halfway there, which is promising.
In many ways, it makes sense that we struggle to secure funds. Entities that hold the most capital, do not typically benefit from transparency organizations, nor rush to fund us. Independent newsrooms, with shrinking budgets for investigations, would often not all be able to afford to pay for the services we provide. We think if we charged people for access to data, we would not be able to fully reach the general public who are our readers.
If you would like us to continue to archive datasets like Cosan, SEDENA, Capital Legal Services, and the Russian Orthodox leak, please consider making a donation. Your donations help support data access for hundreds of newsrooms, academics and civil society researchers from around the world.
As these stories prove, the work is relevant. There is still a need for a public archive of leaks.