Dead Drop: August 7

UNJAILIN’ PAUL WHELAN?  Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan is languishing in a Russian jail after being convicted on dubious charges of committing espionage.  We have been expecting (almost from the time he was first arrested) that the Russians would swap him for someone of interest to them who is in an American hoosegow.  Whelan seems to have fallen off the radar in this country, but we spotted an item of interest in the Birmingham (UK) media.  Turns out Whelan’s parents were from that area before moving to the US.  The UK media speculate that Whelan may be swapped for two men.  One is said to be Russian arms dealer Victor Bout (who was convicted of selling anti-aircraft missiles to terrorists). The other, lesser known, Konstantin Yaroshenko, is serving a twenty-year sentence for attempting to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.  Whelan never had the look of a trained intelligence operative – and, this being the British media, they report he “has described himself as more Mr. Bean than James Bond.”  WTOP’s JJ Green tweeted  early this week that Whelan’s whereabouts were unknown and that he may have been moved to another prison. JJ later updated that Whelan had indeed been moved to another prison camp in the Russian Republic of Mordovia.

TRAVEL PROVIDER GETS TRIPPED UP:  A travel management firm called “CWT” (formerly known as “Carlson Wagonlit”) fell afoul of ransomware hackers and last week agreed to pay the bad guys $4.5 million in bitcoin. That amount is a drop in the bucket for CWT which, according to Reuters, posted $1.5 billion in revenues last year. The hackers had access to and locked 2 terabytes of CWT files.  It is not clear exactly what they had access to – but Diplopundit noted that CWT is the outfit that handles the State Department’s commercial travel arrangements.

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