How a Public Prosecutor’s Office Number Reveals the Route for the Sky Hack

How a Public Prosecutor’s Office Number Reveals the Route for the Sky Hack

One public prosecutor’s office number in a Belgian document that Crimesite has seen makes it clearer again that the Dutch courts have been largely incompletely informed by the Public Prosecution Service about the realization of the hack in France of the Sky ECC messaging service. This document from the Belgian Federal Judicial Police shows that in 2019 a French judge authorized the hacking of the Sky server, but not at all for the investigation according to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service.

The official story – which the Public Prosecution Service has told all courts that have to judge in cases in which evidence with messages from Sky ECC has been processed – is that the Netherlands, Belgium and France each started investigating the company Sky ECC a few years ago.

There was a problem. Sky phones were always seized from suspects in police investigations and could not be cracked. Sky ECC therefore became suspect as a facilitator of criminals.

According to the letter from the Public Prosecution Service to the courts, an investigation was launched in the Netherlands on 1 November 2019 against Sky, just as it did in Belgium and France. On December 13, 2019, a joint Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was set up by the three countries. Again explicitly with the target and suspect Sky ECC.

An authorization issued by a Paris court a few days later (December 17, 2019) authorizes the French judiciary to hack the server and also the messages of Sky users. It was revealed earlier this year that it was not the French who developed the hacking tool – as the Public Prosecution Service suggested to the Dutch courts – but that it was made by Dutch specialists. That was the first gross incompleteness (or inaccuracy) noted by the Public Prosecution Service.

And now it appears that this “incompleteness” of the oath-of-office messages of the Public Prosecution Service – which are now before all courts – goes even further.

It turns out to be incorrect that the authorization of the Paris court of 17 December 2019 was issued for a French investigation in the context of the JIT with Sky ECC as a suspect.

The authorization contains a Belgian public prosecutor’s office number from an investigation from 2018.

An investigation that had therefore already started in 2018, in Mechelen, before a JIT existed, was therefore the reason for the authorisation. DarkDotNet has an official report about the Sky hack of the Belgian Federal Judicial Police from that investigation. It states, among other things, that the investigation started in 2018, under the same public prosecutor’s office number as stated in the Paris document. It is not (yet) known when the Belgian judicial authorities made the request for legal assistance to France.

There is still a (possible) coincidence.

Last week, the Amsterdam court postponed a verdict in a case involving thousands of kilos of cocaine because it appeared from a French court document that a European legal aid had already arrived in that country on December 3, 2018 from Belgium and the Netherlands. The Amsterdam court seems to want to know more about the course of events, and the Public Prosecution Service has promised to submit French documents in that case.

We do not know whether this request for legal assistance was also the request of the justice from Mechelen, it could be.

However, the route that the research from Mechelen has taken in France since 2018 is clear. This is apparent from the previously disclosed Paris authorization: apparently the Mechelen judicial authorities contacted the French Public Prosecution Service in Lille (Lille), which again contacted the court in Paris to request an authorization.

So it may have looked just like a French investigation from Lille, except for the Belgian public prosecutor’s number. However, it was a Belgian study and it came from Mechelen.

Anyway, it is incorrect what the Dutch National Prosecutor’s Office of the Public Prosecution Service has written to various Dutch courts:

The French authorities have used a so-called interception tool in their own investigation into [Sky ECC -ed.] with the authorization of an investigating judge.

It was (in any case) a Belgian study, not an independent French study. And the Dutch made the interception tool, not the French.

Suspects have the right to test the method of using an investigative tool, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure and according to the European fundamental right to a fair trial. The courts in the Netherlands have yet to assess whether this was also the case in the case of the Sky ECC hack.

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