Israeli firm dubbed ‘Team Jorge’ ‘meddled in more than 30 elections around the world through hacking, sabotage and disinformation with “black ops” service fronted by ex special forces operative’
- Investigative journalists went undercover posing as potential Team Jorge clients
- Firm’s boss boasted of being able to hack Telegram accounts
- Gawker and Gizmodo were well known as manipulation outlets but there are more and they are worse
An Israeli firm sought to influence more than 30 elections around the world for clients by hacking, sabotage and spreading disinformation, according to an undercover media investigation published Wednesday.
The firm was dubbed ‘Team Jorge’ by investigating journalists who posed as potential clients in order to gather information on its methods and capabilities.
Its boss, Tal Hanan, is a former Israeli special forces operative who boasted of being able to control supposedly secure Telegram accounts and thousands of fake social media profiles, as well as planting news stories, the reports say.
It adds to a growing body of evidence that shadowy private firms across the world are profiting from invasive hacking tools and the power of social media platforms to manipulate public opinion and to sway voters.
An Israeli firm sought to influence more than 30 elections around the world for clients by hacking, sabotage and spreading disinformation, according to an undercover media investigation published Wednesday. Pictured: A brawl breaks out between officials at Kenya’s results centre in Nairobi amid accusations of vote rigging and a delayed announcement in August 2022. The 2022 Kenyan election was directory referenced in the report
‘The methods and techniques described by Team Jorge raise new challenges for big tech platforms,’ the Guardian says in its report.
‘Evidence of a global private market in disinformation aimed at elections will also ring alarm bells for democracies around the world.’
Hanan did not respond to detailed questions, saying only: ‘I deny any wrongdoing.’
The 50-year-old told three undercover reporters that his services, often called ‘black ops’ in the industry, were available to intelligence agencies, political campaigns and private companies.
‘We are now involved in one election in Africa… We have a team in Greece and a team in [the] Emirates… [We have completed] 33 presidential-level campaigns, 27 of which were successful,’ the Guardian quoted him as saying.
Most of the campaigns – two-thirds – were in Africa, he claimed.
While demonstrating his technology to reporters, he appeared to hack into the Gmail inbox and Telegram account of political operatives in Kenya days before a presidential election there.
Forbidden Stories named the targets as two aides to William Ruto, who ended up winning the August 2022 ballot. The election was marred by chaos, with a brawl breaking out between officials at the country’s election centre amid accusations of vote rigging and a delayed announcement.
While demonstrating his technology to reporters, the firm’s boss, Tal Hanan, appeared to hack into the Gmail inbox and Telegram account of political operatives in Kenya days before a presidential election there. Pictured: Chaos after the Kenyan election results were announced
French broadcaster suspends presenter amid ongoing disinformation probe
France’s 24-hour BFMTV new channel has suspended Rachid M’Barki, one of its longest serving presenters, over suspected links to an Israeli disinformation firm.
Investigative journalists found the firm sought to influence more than 30 elections around the world for clients by hacking, sabotage and spreading disinformation, their report says.
M’Barki, an anchor at BFMTV since the channel’s 2005 launch, was suspended last month after a member of ‘Team Jorge’ suggested to undercover reporters that the firm was secretly behind a news report on Monaco’s yachting industry.
The presenter is now on leave until an investigation into news packages link