For crypto and Russia: Spy ring guilty of Ukraine espionage

Poland has found a spy ring made up of 14 citizens from across Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine guilty of espionage after accepting crypto payments of up to $10,000 to derail trains and monitor military targets in support of Russia.

According to the Agence France-Presse, a Polish court found the spy ring guilty of acts of espionage on Tuesday. The spies planned to derail supply trains en route to Ukraine while also monitoring military targets. Additionally, they were ordered to distribute Russian propaganda, burn homes, and beat people.

“After examining the case… the court found all the defendants guilty of the crimes charged, and found some of them to be operating within an organized criminal group,” said judge Jaroslaw Kowalski.

Russian spies earned $10K to derail critical trains to Ukraine

The spy ring was partly made up of “two Ukrainian lawyers and a political scientist, a French language teacher, a pharmacy technician, (and) a software engineer.”

At least six cameras were found to have been installed by the group, though they ordered many more. These were set up with their own power supplies and communication capabilities, and were operable via mobile phone. This allowed the spies to constantly monitor air, rail, and military transports critical to the invasion of Ukraine.

Among these were the naval port in Gdynia, border crossings, and key railway lines used for weapons and humanitarian aid into Ukraine, Polish media reports.

Read more: Ex-NSA worker sold gov’t secrets for crypto to benefit Russia

Members of the spy ring reportedly accepted payments between $300 and $10,000 worth of cryptocurrency for various tasks. Putting up a pro-Russian poster would grant $5, mounting a camera earned them $300 to $400, and they would receive $10,000 for derailing a train. Their orders came from Russia via Telegram. 

A Russian ice hockey player was also involved and reportedly shared the details of critical infrastructure with Russian intelligence. His arrest in June prompted Moscow to express a “strong protest” against Poland’s actions. 

Two persons who have denied the allegations are to be tried in court.

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