The hacker group “Cyberpartisans” gained access to “thousands of hours” of audio recordings from mobile and landline phones in Belarus. The hackers themselves told the Present Time about this.
The recordings – only 1.5 terabytes in mp3 format – were stored on the servers of the Department for Operative and Investigative Activities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus and cover the period from January 2020 to June 2021, the hackers claim. They reported about server hacking back in August 2021, but the scale of the leak became known only now.
As proof of the leak, Cyberpartisans published records of calls to the Russian embassy in Minsk on their Telegram channel. So, in one of the conversations, a woman, who introduced herself as the chief accountant of the embassy, discusses with an employee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs the conditions for the work of security in one of the residences of the diplomatic mission. “What about the booth? We need to put some toilets there, some microwaves, some heaters,” she says. In another conversation, a representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs tells an embassy employee that “a Belarusian truck is lying on its side near Kursk”, after which the interlocutors discuss the possibility of evacuating this truck.
As noted by Cyber Partisans, wiretapping of embassy workers may be contrary to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, according to which diplomatic correspondence is inviolable.
“Cyberpartisans” shared with Real Time full records of several hundred calls, as well as accompanying files with metadata. The objects of wiretapping in them are marked with code words, for example, “Zhuk-6”, “Briton” and “Casket”. Judging by the content of the calls, covert wiretapping was carried out around the clock and all incoming and outgoing calls of subscribers fell under it.
In Belarus, law enforcement officers can listen in on citizens if they are suspected of committing illegal activities. According to the Law “On Investigative Activities”, this can be done “in cases of urgency” without the sanction of the prosecutor in almost all cases of suspicion of criminal prosecution or if there is a threat to the national security of the Republic of Belarus – on the basis of a decision of the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Chairman of the KGB or head of another power department. Within 24 hours, the prosecutor or his deputy must be notified about this, and a sanction must be obtained within 48 hours. In other words, covert wiretapping without a court order is legal.
“Cyber partisans” are a group of anonymous hackers who support Belarusian protests. In the summer of 2021, hackers carried out Operation Heat, during which they gained access to the internal networks of the special services and authorities of the Lukashenka regime, in particular, to the passport system with personal data of all citizens of the republic.
Present Time sent a request to the Russian Embassy in Minsk with a request to comment on the leaked telephone conversations.