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Giuliani associates' electronic devices still not cracked by FBI

By Christian Berthelsen, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

FBI agents have still not accessed the electronics devices of two Rudy Giuliani associates arrested more than a year ago, and some suspect they never will, a federal prosecutor said Monday.

Nicolas Roos, an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan, raised the issue during a hearing in the case of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who are charged with channeling foreign funds into U.S. political campaigns and working to oust then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Separately, Fruman and Parnas worked closely with Giuliani in trying to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Joe Biden, an effort that contributed to President Donald Trump's impeachment.

Roos said the Federal Bureau of Investigation still possesses seven devices belonging to Parnas and Fruman that are locked. "At this time there is no expectation they will be opened without an advancement in technology or a password," the prosecutor said.

The case was scheduled to go to trial March 1, but U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken on Monday postponed the matter indefinitely, citing courthouse scheduling complications because of the coronavirus.


Authorities are still gathering evidence against Parnas and Fruman, and the issue of accessing the electronic devices has been a cat-and-mouse game of sorts between prosecutors and defense lawyers. Prosecutors said in February they had been unable to access some 20 phones, computers, thumb drives and other devices belonging to the defendants because they had declined to provide their passwords.

David Correia, another defendant in the case, pleaded guilty in October and dropped an appeal over the search of his devices, allowing authorities to begin reviewing material from them for the first time.

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