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Did Russia Trick Snowden Into Going To Moscow? 346

Posted by samzenpus
from the can-we-give-you-a-ride? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ex-KGB Major Boris Karpichko says that spies from Russia's SVR intelligence service, posing as diplomats in Hong Kong, convinced Snowden to fly to Moscow last June. 'It was a trick and he fell for it,' Karpichko, who reached the rank of Major as a member of the KGB's prestigious Second Directorate while specializing in counter-intelligence, told Nelson. 'Now the Russians are extracting all the intelligence he possesses.'"
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Did Russia Trick Snowden Into Going To Moscow?

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  • His statement conflicts with Snowdwn's statement in his last interview.
    • by BitZtream (692029) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:01AM (#47194227)

      ... yea, so Snowden still doesn't know he was tricked?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:16AM (#47194375)

        According to Snowden, he destroyed all the files once he successfully handed them off to Greenwald. In which case, there's no intelligence to steal except his personal knowledge.

        Lest you think he didn't destroy them properly enough, he apparently gave lessons to other intelligence officials on counter measures. So he would be well versed in how to secure and destroy data.

        Granted, maybe Snowden is lying. But we have no evidence of his lying. Everything he has said so far has been either corroborated by the government or met with silence. And in some cases, both; for example, he always said that he used proper whistleblowing channels, and the government said they had no knowledge of this. Then more recently the government corroborated one of the instances he claims. I think it's fair to say that the government is either not telling us what it knows, or is just incompetent.

        • by evilviper (135110)

          Everything he has said so far has been either corroborated by the government or met with silence.

          That's patently incorrect.

          Snowden claims to have raised concerns about the NSA programs, and the administration has patently denied this:

          http://www.washingtontimes.com... [washingtontimes.com]

          Recently, Snowden claimed that he was a field agent. The administration has denied this, in no uncertain terms.

  • Didn't he release all of his information? What more use would be interrogating him?

    I see some possibilities here:

    1. He did not actually release everything he had.
    2. Why would Russia release this information? What do they have to gain from saying this?

    • There's probably a significant amount of internal operational knowledge that Snowden has which isn't in the documents he has released, as well as knowledge of other employees, seniors etc which would be interesting to foreign intelligence agencies for various reasons.

      Think of it as the operational equivalent of traffic analysis - you can gain some insights into the NSA while not having any access to information about projects etc.

    • by dbIII (701233) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:48AM (#47194623)

      Why would Russia release this information?

      It's not "Russia" but a US resident who used to work in USSR intelligence, so it's a guess that needs to be taken with a bucketful of salt. It may be true in a stopped clock being right twice a day way but it's an opinion shouldn't be trusted without hearing from another source a bit closer to the action who may be able to offer something other than an opinion.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday June 09, 2014 @11:17AM (#47195203)

      Didn't he release all of his information? What more use would be interrogating him?

      I see some possibilities here:

      1. He did not actually release everything he had.
      2. Why would Russia release this information? What do they have to gain from saying this?

      He did not.
      Snowden released ALL of the data to 2 reporters and a documentary film maker.
      He was caught in a catch 22. If he did not release all of the data, the government could argue he was trying to manipulate the government by only release bits and pieces. At the same time, if he released all of it as Manning did, it could put some people in danger. He's always argued that he did not want to harm the US's legitimate interests.

      So he picked journalists that he thought were responsible and he thought he could trust, gave them all of the data and relied on them to keep it safe and only release data that would further his transparency goals. This is also why he didn't approach the NewYork Times. They'd already agreed to hide information they had on government programs with the Whitehouse. Snowden knew this, and didn't trust them because of it. Their complicity lost them the biggest story in the history of the world.

  • by jkrise (535370) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:02AM (#47194237) Journal

    If the Americans had any intelligence and sincerity, Snowden would not have had any reason to flee in the first place.

  • Plot Twist (Score:5, Funny)

    by cdrudge (68377) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:03AM (#47194243) Homepage

    Here's where the plot twist falls into play: Snowden is still working for the NSA but is feeding Russia misinformation. It's all a very elaborate scheme to trick our old adversaries. While the price to pull it off was high with releasing top secret information, it wasn't exactly anything that everyone didn't know or think was happening.

    • by Exitar (809068)

      Even better:
      Snowden isn't working for the NSA, but the NSA let him get wrong informations and managed to have him flee to Russia to feed them misinformation.

      • by Fuzzums (250400)

        Actually Russian agents within the NSA are leaking real information through what the rest of the NSA believes is false information ans Snowden is involved in this operation playing along with the game, letting the NSA believe the intended plan was to defecting to Russia and feed the Russians false information...

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Actually Russian agents within the NSA are leaking real information through what the rest of the NSA believes is false information ans Snowden is involved in this operation playing along with the game, letting the NSA believe the intended plan was to defecting to Russia and feed the Russians false information...

          Yes, they were (indirectly, of course) placed there by American operatives who have infiltrated the highest levels of Russian government.

        • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday June 09, 2014 @10:55AM (#47195057) Homepage Journal

          Gotta be said at this point:

          Yo, Dawg! I heard you like [REDACTED], so I [REDACTED] in your [REDACTED] so you can [REDACTED] while you [REDACTED]!

    • by Cassini2 (956052)

      What kind of intelligence agency traps an agent in Moscow?

      It is possible Snowden is working for the CIA. Either the American's are really dumb, trapping him in Moscow, or they are smart and deliberate.

      • by dbIII (701233)
        He made a fool of powerful "Horse Judges" promoted seven levels above their competence where they were caught out doing "a heck of a job", so he's been trapped in Moscow out of spite.
      • by HiThere (15173)

        In the first place he wasn't trapped in Russia by an intelligence agency. That was a piece of political grandstanding, and as stupid as such usually is.

        In the second place, the actions of the US govt. have more commonly been seen to be stupid than brilliant. This doesn't mean that the actions are more commonly stupid, but merely the actions that one hears about. But this is one we heard about, so I opt for stupid. (Besides, stupid is consistent with the other indications.)

        That said, if I were a Russian

    • Hold on! I have M. Night Shyamalan on the phone, he thinks we can get Daniel Craig to play Snowden, and Will Smith to play Obama. With some luck we can get the extremely Russian [imdb.com] Sean Connery to play Vladimir Putin.
  • by watermark (913726) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:04AM (#47194253)

    Just more propaganda and doubt to bring into the mix

    • by gnupun (752725)
      They (the propagandists) are trying to shift the blame from Snowden to Russia.
  • Sorta plausible (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sasparillascott (1267058) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:06AM (#47194279)
    The only fly in the ointment of this possiblity, is that it was the Obama Administration that suspended Snowden's passport on his flight to South America that connected through Moscow (while in flight from Hong Kong to Moscow), stranding him in Russia (obviously with intent to politically smear him - which has worked with alot of not informed people).

    The shortsighted political decisions of the Obama Administration to do this (locking someone like Snowden in the home of the former KGB) for political gain seems like one of the premier examples of cutting off your nose to spite your face. Obviously the Obama Administration made the political calculation (up at the executive level) that it was worth stranding someone with all his knowledge there. Seems ridiculously shortsighted.
    • Re:Sorta plausible (Score:5, Informative)

      by cultiv8 (1660093) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:57AM (#47194685) Homepage
      No, it's not plausible, this is another example of the US gov't trying to discredit Snowden. Here are some facts:

      Based on the limited google search I did, and this article [freerepublic.com] sums nicely, it seems more like Russia was monitoring Snowden as early as 2007 and then this Boris guy made some pretty outlandish claims about the monitoring.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Snowden has already stated that he didn't take any intelligence to Russia. He had passed it all on and was no longer in possession of it by the time he left Hong Kong.

  • by Joel Cahoon (2906501) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:08AM (#47194295)
    One more reason why whistle-blowers like Snowden should be protected, rather than demonized. If this is true, then his fear of repercussions is the key factor that allowed Russia this opportunity in the first place. Even if it isn't true, it's a scenario Americans should be concerned about, because it's highly plausible.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:23AM (#47194415)

      What do you expect with people like this in charge?

      “More importantly, much more importantly, what he’s done is hurt his country,” he said. “What he’s done is expose, for terrorists, a lot of mechanisms which now affect operational security of those terrorists and make it harder for the United States to break up plots, harder to protect our nation.”
      - Sen. John Kerry on Edward Snowden

      “I just think that’s a lot of baloney because, to whatever degree it may be true, they will wind up putting themselves at the mercy of those people who are very effective (at) who are there, who will deal with those guys,”
      - Sen. John Kerry on dangerousness of Taliban detainees

      Let's get this straight: direct release of enemy combatants...ok, release of documents related to collecting phone records of every american...not ok. Political astroturfing...priceless.

      ""The American people want to trust in our government again – we just need a government that will trust in us. And making government accountable to the people isn't just a cause of this campaign – it's been a cause of my life for two decades."
      - President Obama on protecting whistleblowers

      Remember this quote, remember what he promised? I guess we missed the footnote: "except in cases where I lose political powers...".

      Why do we forget so easily?

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:08AM (#47194301)

    'Now the Russians are extracting all the intelligence he possesses.'

    Sounds like a good reason to not criminalize whistleblowers. If he had felt safe in the US, he wouldn't have been tricked into going to Moscow.

    • by MikeMo (521697) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:12AM (#47194345)
      If Snowden is a "whistleblower", why did he release so much material about things the NSA does which are not illegal? Why did he release info about capabilities which are clearly under the NSA purview and in the national interest?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by OzPeter (195038)

        If Snowden is a "whistleblower", why did he release so much material about things the NSA does which are not illegal?

        So what are you insinuating here? That because he released non-ilegal things that Snowden was not a whistle blower? And therefore he should be prosecuted?

        That line of thinking smells a lot like a logical fallacy.

        And anyway, did Snowden release the documents himself, or was it the journalists that he passed them on to?

      • by mellon (7048) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:46AM (#47194597) Homepage

        Whistleblowers don't just release things that are illegal. Lots of really evil behavior is "legal". That doesn't mean it's right, or that people will support it when they find out about it. Need I remind you about the FISA Amendments Act of 2008? That made lots of exciting things legal...

      • by bsolar (1176767)
        Some practices are technically legal, but it doesn't mean they should. In some cases the laws are simply lacking and new ones should be defined (especially true in technology). It might also be that some practices are technically legal through loopholes which allow you to do something legally in the letter of the law even if against the spirit. In other cases the laws are actually made with the required loopholes, a blatant example defining some practices which are clearly torture as not being torture to be
  • by sirwired (27582) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:09AM (#47194313)

    I'm not sure it's possible to "trick" somebody who fled the U.S. to hang out with the Peace and Freedom Loving Peoples of the PRC. Unless Snowden is a completely gullible idiot, it's beyond ludicrous to think he didn't know that months of intelligence extraction awaited him after a flight to Russia.

    Frankly, I don't understand the guy. There are plenty of better options that would have been available to him; I still can't figure why he chose the PRC as a first stop. Once he got stuck there, his options were between slim and none.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:19AM (#47194393)

      There are plenty of better options that would have been available to him

      Erm... it's like people didn't pay attention at all. Governments forced planes to land on the mere suspicion that Snowden might've been riding on them. Multiple countries denied his requests for asylum. Flying around a lot would have endangered him even further.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Noryungi (70322)

      He was in Hong Kong, not in the "PRC". Document yourself instead of spouting nonsense.

      And he knew the FSB was going to be interested in him, he was just hoping to leave Russia ASAP to go to South America. The Obama administration revoked his passport, stranding him in Russia. Furthermore, I believe that most of what Snowden gave to Greenwald, the FSB/Russian intelligence knew already: NSA, like many other US agencies have had its share of moles [edwardjayepstein.com].

    • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:55AM (#47194675)

      I'm not sure it's possible to "trick" somebody who fled the U.S. to hang out with the Peace and Freedom Loving Peoples of the PRC. Unless Snowden is a completely gullible idiot, it's beyond ludicrous to think he didn't know that months of intelligence extraction awaited him after a flight to Russia.

      Frankly, I don't understand the guy. There are plenty of better options that would have been available to him; I still can't figure why he chose the PRC as a first stop. Once he got stuck there, his options were between slim and none.

      Plenty of options? Like going to congress where the hard liners were calling for his execution? The truth is that it was hard line bullshitters like that which drove Snowden to Russia. The US political class shot it self in the foot with its come-down-on-him-like-a-ton-of-bricks attitude and now Russia is benefitting. It's basically a reverse of the situation faced during the Cold War by people who had legitimate reason to criticises the Soviet system had no way of doing so except by defecting to the west to avoid being locked away. Perhaps you should ask yourself why the only place from which the NSA and the US govt. can be safely criticisesd these days on certain issues without having to fear being disappeared into some CIA run solitary confinement unit, is a shark tank like Putin's Russia?

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:10AM (#47194329)

    If Snowden hadn't been treated like a traitor by his country, he wouldn't've had to flee in the first place. Uncle Sam only have himself to blame if snowden is spilling the beans in Russia.

    • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:31AM (#47194489)

      If Snowden hadn't been treated like a traitor by his country, he wouldn't've had to flee in the first place. Uncle Sam only have himself to blame if snowden is spilling the beans in Russia.

      You don't understand the event sequence, so you are wrong. It went like this.
      1) Snowden steals a bunch of documents in secret. He flies to Hong Kong. At this point, nobody knows anything about him or what he has done except Snowden himself.
      2) While in Hong Kong, Snowden gives a bunch of documents to various members of the press and holds a press conference to announce what he has done and to point out that he "had" to do it because it was the only way to let the American people know the truth.
      3) The US government wakes up and realizes it has a really big problem on its hands. It's only now that the "traitor" charges begin and the US leans on China to send him back, instead prompting China to turn a blind eye as Russia agrees to make this its problem and headache to deal with. This gets China off the hook, although the Chinese have surely previously copied Snowden's stuff and possibly reached a deal with the USSR, cough cough, I mean Russia to share with each other what they find out.

      • by dbIII (701233) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:59AM (#47194695)
        One of the things Snowden exposed is how utterly shambolic the NSA is and how there is a vast attack surface which would be highly vunerable to foreign agencies or even organized crime. If China and Russia didn't already have access to what an external contractor in Hawaii like Snowden had then they wouldn't have been trying at all.

        Chinese have surely previously copied Snowden's stuff and possibly reached a deal with the USSR

        The press already have it so there's no reason for governments to make deals - a few bucks or a cheap favor to a paper and they've got the lot.

      • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday June 09, 2014 @11:37AM (#47195391)

        If Snowden hadn't been treated like a traitor by his country, he wouldn't've had to flee in the first place. Uncle Sam only have himself to blame if snowden is spilling the beans in Russia.

        You don't understand the event sequence, so you are wrong. It went like this.

        1) Snowden steals a bunch of documents in secret. He flies to Hong Kong. At this point, nobody knows anything about him or what he has done except Snowden himself.

        2) While in Hong Kong, Snowden gives a bunch of documents to various members of the press and holds a press conference to announce what he has done and to point out that he "had" to do it because it was the only way to let the American people know the truth.

        3) The US government wakes up and realizes it has a really big problem on its hands. It's only now that the "traitor" charges begin and the US leans on China to send him back, instead prompting China to turn a blind eye as Russia agrees to make this its problem and headache to deal with. This gets China off the hook, although the Chinese have surely previously copied Snowden's stuff and possibly reached a deal with the USSR, cough cough, I mean Russia to share with each other what they find out.

        Sorry, you're off by quite a bit there.

        Snowden knew what the NSA Was doing.
        He didn't want to release it because Obama was going to win and promised to end the secret programs.
        Obama took office and not only did the program continue, it was ramped up. Snowden saw whistleblowers getting nailed all over the place.
        The NSA actually FRAMED one guy. Litterally framed him. When the documents were found to be fake the feds dropped the case.
        Snowden then realized that there would be no fair trail inside the US. He would be framed as well.
        He also saw how other leakers had released information to a single news source and that news source had spiked the story at the whitehouses request.
        He contacted 3 journalists over a period of months and setup a meeting in Hong Kong
        With multiple media sources, no single org could stop the story. If one covered it up, the others could release it.
        The journalists met him in a hotel room there where they interviewed him over a period of a week or two. He gave them all the data.
        They sent some of their documents back to the US for stories and then watched the whitehouses reaction.
        They hoped there would be an immediate turn around in policy as the public realized what was going on and the NSA realized what snowden had stolen.
        Instead President Obama came out and flatly lied to the public. Not just a little, not just speaking out of context, he told bold faced lies and members of the justice department and congress went along with him.
        Snowden realized this meant it was an institutional conspiracy. There would be change without releasing all of the data.
        So Snowden went public because he wanted to counter what was so obviously a lie. Without an "inside man" to explain how things really worked the president could spin the story any way he wanted to. By being the face to the story, he made it very real to most Americans.

        Have no doubt, he sacrificed himself for us. I don't know what else he does or his political views. I'm sure there are things about him I'd dislike or even hate. But if more of us could have a moment of clarity like he did, if we could do the right but painful thing that needed to be done more often, we'd all be better off.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:23AM (#47194421) Homepage
    Saying it was a trick flagrantly ignores the fact that the vast majority of more than 75 nations would openly and gladly transfer snowden to the United States. As a nation all we'd have to do is threaten to withhold/offer to increase aid to the target nation and in turn theyd cough him up post-haste. this doesnt account for the numerous countries with dictatorial governments favorable to our interests in which we could simply just ask.
    Russia is one of a handful of successful foreign nations with the power, both economically and militarily to resist whatever the US asks for. Sending cia agents to him for rendition is a suicide mission, both militarily and politically. We are beholden to 5% of our oil supply from Russia, and the last time we offered an economic incentive was when we bought up a few hundred nuclear missiles from them and converted the payload to nuclear fuel in the 80's so we arent exactly an economic juggernaut in their world.

    snowden was smart to take the Russian offer. He was going to expose clandestine secrets about the United States government that fly in the face of the constitution and our rule of law, and Russia saw nothing but gain from his efforts. finally, after 50 years of chest thumping freedom and swinging-dick foreign policy, a piping hot dish of humble pie had been prepared to which America would reluctantly have to at least take a bite and say, "Politically we're no less reprehensible than any other nation. we just have better propaganda."
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Russia didn't make an "offer". He was stranded in the Moscow international airport. Unlike most nations, Russia pretends that its airport is international territory. That allows them to ignore asylum requests which it would otherwise have to hear under international law.

      There are lots of other people stuck in the Moscow airport, but they all have valid passports, so eventually they run out of money or get tired and move on to another country. Snowden, however, no longer had a passport. That means he was stu

  • I don't think "trick" applies here. Snowden went to Russia only after pretty much all other options had been closed off by the Obama administration. If instead of going batshit insane on Snowden, the administration had quietly tolerated (or even encouraged) asylum in some small South American nation, the Russians wouldn't have him and the US secret service could keep an eye on him.

  • ..they promised him something then refused to provide that something.

    They may have convinced him to go there with nefarious motives, but that's not necessarily a 'trick'

    • by Shatrat (855151)

      He thought it was just a stopover on the way to South America. I don't think the russians were the ones preventing him from continuing onwards though. If you'll recall the US was having planes from Moscow to South America diverted so they could be searched. It was a proud fucking moment.

  • by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Monday June 09, 2014 @09:29AM (#47194473)
    I didn't know opinion passed for news these days....
  • Boris Karpichko: [theguardian.com]

    Boris Karpichkov worked as a KGB agent in the 1980s before fleeing to Britain as a place of safety. He talks about his career, why Russian spies are again targeting Britain – and why he'll never stop looking over his shoulder ... Karpichkov, it turns out, knows a huge amount: about Russia's murky arms sales abroad, for example. He is intelligent, and a first-class analyst – but, of course, he has no one to report to. Karpichkov says he is "no way scared". But he confesses he is now "dead tired" of the exhausting world of espionage, and concerned for the safety of his wife and grownup children.

    Oleg Kalugin: [wikipedia.org]

    With the return to power of elements of the KGB, most notably Vladimir Putin, Kalugin was again accused of treason. In 2002 he was put on trial in absentia in Moscow and found guilty of spying for the West.[3] He was sentenced to fifteen years in jail,[6] in a verdict he described as "Soviet justice, which is really triumphant today".[7] The US and Russia have no extradition treaty.[7] Kalugin currently works for the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (CI CENTRE) is a member of the advisory board for the International Spy Museum.[8] He remains a critic of Vladimir Putin, a former subordinate, whom he called a "war criminal" over his conduct of the Second Chechen War.[3][9]

    • by wytcld (179112)

      So Boris, who depends on Western intelligence services to avoid being assassinated, as other Russian spies who fled to Britain have been, says what his protectors want him to. Business Insider is just plain stupid to publish this.

  • Snowden asserts that he brought no classified files with him when he left the US.

    And Russian intelligence has good reasons for spreading a story like this, even if it's false. It makes Russia look smart and the US look stupid. And it will likely the US to abandon a variety of intelligence assets for fear that they are compromised.

    I don't think we have any way of knowing who to believe.

  • A story like this is the U.S. government's wet dream. This is highly suspicious.
  • under his control to disseminate, he would have been dead by now.

  • How can anybody be so naive as to think that NSA isn't already crawling with Russian spies? Everything NSA knows, its Russian counterpart knows nearly at the same time. It doesn't take a Snowden to achieve that. Remember: Russians have a long tradition of building up sleeper and secret agents in foreign targets, and they are renowned for their patience and the time they take in placing those agents in high positions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2014 @10:37AM (#47194937)

    What's next!?!

    First, he's a nobody who didn't get away with anything...
    Then, he's a script kiddie who got away with a few things...
    Then, he's an average IT person who probably got help...
    Then, he's a mastermind terrorist trying to topple the U.S. government...

    Now... he's a dupe of the Russian spy agencies.

    Next month, he'll be a long-term deep-cover Russian mole sent to steal all the U.S. secrets...
    Month after that, he'll be the next Bond villain, sitting is his swivel chair and stroking his white cat ;)

    What *will* they think of next!!!

  • by clonehappy (655530) on Monday June 09, 2014 @10:54AM (#47195053)

    Imagine a hypothetical situation:

    You are cheating on your wife, and have been doing so for some time now. A good friend of hers finds out about what you're doing and tells your her. At this point, people are going to be pissed off at one of two people. People loyal to you are going to be pissed off at your wife's friend for ratting you out. People loyal to her are going to be pissed off at you, and see your wife's friend as a hero. That's just the way things work. So you can always tell where someone's loyalties really lie by determining whom they are pissed off at.

    In this situation, the secret police/military complex/power elite/establishment is effectively screwing over the general public and the Constitution (the highest law of that land, for those that are unfamiliar), and has been doing so for some time now. Someone finds out about what they're really doing and tells us. At this point, people are pissed off at one of two people (or groups of people). People who are loyal to the secret police/military complex/power elite/establishment are pissed off at Snowden for ratting them out. People loyal to the general public and Constitution are pissed off at the people screwing them, and see him as a hero.

    I'm not trying to scream "shill" to every person who wants Snowden's head on a pike, but you'd better believe that any prominent figure who is crying traitor day in and day out in the public media, well, you know where their loyalties lie is all I'm saying. It's not too hard to figure it out.

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