A Russian hacker has reportedly confessed that Russia's state intelligence agency ordered him to hack the Democratic National Committee's servers during the 2016 US presidential election. The hacker, Konstantin Kozlovsky, reportedly testified in court to carrying out the attacks at the request of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), considered to be the successor of the Soviet security agency the KGB.
During the election campaign, hackers stole thousands of private DNC emails that were later steadily leaked by WikiLeaks in the months leading up to the November election, drawing heavy scrutiny and media attention.
US intelligence agencies concluded earlier this year that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a complex influence campaign to help sway the election in Donald Trump's favour using leaks, cyberattacks, a disinformation campaign and more.
Putin has vehemently denied any involvement in the DNC hack or influencing the electoral process of another nation.
Kozlovsky's testimony marks the first time a hacker has claimed to have carried out the attack under the orders of the FSB.
According to independent Russian media website The Bell, Kozlovsky confessed in Moscow City Court on 15 August, Fortune reported. He was arrested together with a group of hackers earlier this year over a cyberheist involving the "Lurk" virus.
He is currently facing charges over a cybercrime case that saw the theft of over 3 billion rubles (about $50m, £38m) from Russian banks since the beginning of 2016.
Kozlovsky testified that he reported to Dmitry Dokuchayev, a major-general in the FSB, since 2008 to carry out "various tasks under the supervision of FSB officers". Last year, he was allegedly ordered to attack the DNC's servers, target Hillary Clinton's emails and hack "serious military enterprises of the US and other organisations".
Dokuchayev, 33, has been separately charged in the US over his role in the massive 2014 Yahoo hack that compromised millions of accounts.
The Bell reported that a written transcript as well a Soundcloud audio recording of the hearing were posted on Kozlovsky's Facebook page. The website said it confirmed their authenticity with two separate sources including one of the hacker's friends and a person who was present at the hearing.
The meeting was confirmed by an unnamed source "close to Kozlovsky's defense side" and one of his friends. His lawyer Galina Toshtayeva declined The Bell's request for comment. A court representative told the Bell that the hearing did take place in August and was presided over by Judge Sergei Gruzdev. IBTimes UK was unable to independently verify the same.
Kozlovsky is currently in prison and is facing charges of treason for allegedly passing information over to US agencies, including details of the DNC hack in 2016.
He also claimed that he was involved in hacking of the World Anti-Doping (Wada) servers. However, the Bell notes that the attack only came to light in September 2016 when Kozlovsky was already in jail for at least three months.
The hacker said he began cooperating with the FSB back in 2008 at the age of 16 and "did everything that they said".
Multiple US Congressional committees and special counsel Robert Mueller are currently investigating Russian interference in the election and alleged collusion between Trump's team and the Kremlin. Trump has denied any links to Russia and has continued to slam the ongoing probes as a "witch-hunt".