During a conference in January, an FBI agent showed footage of the arrest of Alexandre Cazes, the then-administrator of the largest dark web drug marketplace, AlphaBay. The agent appeared to be bragging about the high-profile arrest, made a few days before Cazes killed himself in a prison cell.
I was able to capture a few seconds of the video at the Fordham Law School in Manhattan, but I also filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the bureau to get the whole video released. Considering that the agency aired the footage at a conference that included journalists, private-sector security researchers, law enforcement, and others, we know that the video exists and that the FBI isn’t shy about showing it publicly. But on Tuesday, the FBI rejected my FOIA request, refusing to publish the video.
“The information you seek does not fall under the purview of the FOIA,” the rejection letter argues, explaining that my request did not comply with FOIA regulations, although it doesn’t specify which ones.
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Being able to see the whole video would give an unprecedented inside look at how the feds go after technologically sophisticated criminals. The biggest challenge in Cazes’s arrest was that he was very careful to always lock and thus encrypt his laptop (that allegedly contained incriminating evidence.) So the feds had to create an excuse to lure him out of his office in a rush. They came up with the idea of crashing a car into the gate of his apartment.
We will appeal this denial, but it’s clear that the FBI does not want to release a video that one of its agents willingly showed at a conference.
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