Before U.S. intelligence officials began investigating Russian-led cyberattacks in the 2016 presidential election, a Florida man reportedly made 400,000 attempts to hack into the Clinton Foundation’s computer network, claiming he was a “private investigator” researching whether the charity was inadvertently providing funding to Islamist militant groups.
That man, Timothy Sedlak, 44, of Ocoee, Florida, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court Monday to 18 months in prison for attempting to access the global charitable organization’s computers without authorization, and as a result, “recklessly causing damage” to the foundation’s computers, according to a news release from the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Sedlak was arrested in September 2015 and pleaded guilty in February. Officials never identified the Manhattan-based global charity that was targeted.
Sedlak’s “research” consisted of trying to figure out if philanthropies were unintentionally financing Islamist militant groups through charitable organizations in the Middle East. Sedlak told Secret Service agents he hoped to sell his findings, according to a federal news release.
The Clinton Foundation, created by former president Bill Clinton shortly after he left office in 2001, has grown into a $2 billion global philanthropy that funds health care, education and environmental initiatives worldwide. Leading up to the presidential election, the organization faced scrutiny from critics who charged that donations from corporate and foreign interests to the foundation created a conflict of interest for Hillary Clinton as she pursued the presidency. Chelsea Clinton is the vice chair of the foundation.
Federal investigators discovered Sedlak during the summer of 2015, when Clinton Foundation employees had trouble accessing their email accounts. Investigators tracked hacking attempts to computers linked to two Internet protocol addresses at Sedlak’s Florida home. From June to July 2015, Sedlak had made 195,000 attempts to crack into 20 email accounts from one IP address, and another 195,000 attempts to log into six email accounts from the other IP address, according to Monday’s news release.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Samantha Schmidt