Yesterday, the owner of Deeepdotweb “Tal Prihar” gave an interview to an Israeli news channel in which he spoke in detail about his case. Throughout the interview, he maintained his innocence and said that he would not create demand for illegal goods, if someone wanted to do bad, he would do it regardless of them.
The interview was conducted through Prihar’s lawyer, Nick Kaufman, in a french prison, where he is currently held until his extradition to the United States. The interview was published in Hebrew by the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot. Here is an uncut translation of the interview for you.
The FBI is convinced that now that Tal Prihar is finally arrested, they have dealt a huge blow to the Dark Web. Prihar is accused of giving everyone who simply wants to buy dangerous drugs, firearms, hacked credit cards and much more, as if it were Amazon or Ali Express, only meth and automatic machines. On this journey, he and his partners earned $ 15 million. But from his cell in prison, Prikhar tells a completely different version: without me, all these clients could even die.
District Attorney Scott Brady was especially proud of this rout. “This is the most significant law enforcement activity to date at Darknet,” he said emphatically. “This case marks the first seizure of the infrastructure of illicit markets in which dangerous drugs are sold on Darknet.” A strict indictment filed by plaintiff Brady in a Pennsylvania court stated: one sophisticated site that supposedly became the central gateway to the dark network. The site, according to the indictment, contained links to some of the largest underground trading platforms Darknet, which allowed everyone to relatively easily and safely buy heroin, crystal, firearms, malware, cracked credit cards, and this is only a partial list. Come in, pay – and a pack of drugs or a gun already on your way. The indictment alleges that FBI undercover agents through this venture were able to order, for example, 10 grams of methamphetamine ($ 470), 3.5 grams of heroin (82.38 US dollars), 10 grams of coke ($ 480), two broken credit cards ($ 37.80) and “redemption software” that “blocks” the attacked computer until its owner agrees to pay, $ 82.38 each.
And there was something else about this gate to Darknet – the Israelis are tuned and controlled. The eldest of them, 38-year-old Tal Prihar, is currently awaiting extradition to the United States at Presence Prison, one of the toughest places of detention in France in a suburb of Paris. In an exclusive 7-day interview this week, Prihar answers questions sent to him through attorney Nick Kaufman. For him, he not only did not commit any crime, but vice versa. He saved lives in general. “I don’t know that any particular crime was committed only because I listed or published, on the contrary,” he claims. “Our goal was to prevent crimes against personal and economic freedoms and try to minimize physical and mental harm. There was nothing in our information to convince or force people to do what they were not going to do, regardless of us, for better or for worse. ”
Interviewer: But how will you react, if revealed, is your way of buying weapons? Or did a drug dealer use your site and sell it to a 14-year-old dead person?
Prikhar: “To make it clear: we have not created demand. Neither weapons nor drugs. Therefore, if someone is going to buy a gun and kill people or buy drugs – he will do it independently of us. We were just an intermediate filter explaining how to use markers ”(nickname for illegal trade sites in Darkant – NIS), in general, in a safe way to warn of dangers, poisonings and thefts, and also refer to places that we believed that this will be the least harm to those who have already decided to use them. We did not recommend or push. We have never placed advertisements or articles promoting the use of any site, any illegal product or other.
“In the modern world, information is accessible to everyone. This is the same as WhatsApp, Telegram, Wicker, Signal or Messenger from Facebook, etc. It provides end-to-end encryption and also provides anonymity for everyone who wants to keep it secret from corporate or tyrannical regimes; but the same encryption can also be used by drug dealers, guns, human traffickers and terrorists. There is nothing to be done, so technology works today. I have no doubt that without a site, many people would die from drugs bought online. And by the way, on the whole, there are few of them: 99 percent of Darknet arms sellers are FBI undercover agents, and those who think they will try to buy weapons there may be arrested. ”
For many years, Darknet has been a global center for the illicit trafficking of drugs, weapons, pornography and the link between criminal and terrorist organizations. Unlike the “open network” of the Internet – which includes all the well-known WWW sites, social networks and much more – DarkNet allows for almost completely anonymous activity, which makes it a particularly wild and dangerous place dominated by hackers and people from the underworld. Darknet browsing is done through a unique browser (TOR) and enters specific addresses (called Onion addresses). An inexperienced surfer who goes to Darknet will be hard to get on the Internet, and if he is trying to buy drugs, weapons or porn in “shopping centers” he may find himself a victim of fraud, stolen viruses, blackmail, whose credit number was distributed, or, at best, his subsequent knock on the door of his house. And it was here that Tal Prihar and his partner, 34-year-old Michael Fan, came to the conclusion: they created a unique platform called DeepDotWeb, which became the “gateway” for entering the “markets” in Darknet. DeepDotWeb included direct links to their trading sites, explanations, reviews and ratings. U.S. lawmakers say Prihar & Co. almost everyone could enter the illegal markets of Darknet, and then buy (and sell) everything there.
According to the indictment, all this was not done kindly: the “marketers” who received referrals from the site paid Prihar & Associates fees. The payment was transferred in bitcoins, and revenue was estimated at $ 15.5 million.
Prikhar does not deny the fact of creating the site, but makes a statement in principle: I? I just provided a link. What people have acquired or done through the site is no longer my responsibility. And if that is the case, then on the contrary, he argues, his activities prevented drug buyers from acquiring poison or being robbed on the Internet. “There is not a single case in the world that someone has been charged with a crime of which we are charged,” Prihar answers our questions from his prison in France. “And in the absence of such a precedent, we never thought that if we if we do something, it will be considered a crime. In general, we are engaged in marketing. ”
Interviewer: Have you had any moral problems with the site?
Prikhar: “Moral problems with what exactly? Provide people with information designed to keep them informed and more secure and informed about the actions they can take? The site saved thousands of lives in its publications by not allowing them to buy poisons from people who published one and provided the other. This saved tens of millions of people who knew which site not to turn to and who was going to steal their money. So, moral issues? No problem. We weren’t advertising drugs. We were a repository of information”.
He is 38 years old, he is married and the father of four children, who studied and grew up in Maalot and Kfar Rosima. According to him, from childhood he was passionate about technology and was engaged in “assembly, understanding, dismantling, assembly, development, game.” At the age of 20, after shortened service (due to asthma) in the artillery corps, he moved to England, where he discovered both the online world and religion. After three years of strengthening, he returned to Israel and very quickly became one of the local internet marketing gurus. He had a successful blog, he gave interviews in the professional press, lectured to an audience who wanted to know how to use thing – the internet – to sell, and what the hell was going to happen for Google to promote your site, not a competitor.
Interviewer: So how did you come up with the idea of creating an access site for the Darknet?
Prihar: “As an Internet marketing specialist, I always looked for a niche that has not yet been touched and that has a chance to turn into a crazy one. So, I created a site that still hasn’t decided what it will be: a joke site? Memes? News? Blog? And I just started throwing out different types of content when I sell it on all kinds of relevant media. At the same time, I use analytic tools to determine which types of content produce the most noise and traffic (network and user traffic – NIS). Then came the revelation: they began to come up with articles about Darknet, and I saw that there was a demand for it. ”
Interviewer: Does that mean?
Prihar: “Do people like information from Darknet? So we will bring them news from there. Initially, he was at the top level of posts from Darknet forums, with the addition of a manually bloated headline. I found that people not only respond to everything I write, but almost every week for my little experimental site it was quoted in huge media such as CNN, Forbes, Wierd and Techcrunch. In fact, all the uniqueness of my scale was that I was the only one who downloaded Tor software, I scoured for forums in search of National posts and put them in the first place.”
The next step was to create a user guide, a site that Prikhar describes as “a section of darknet tutorials.” “Prihar:“ I thought that if they buy on the darknet, they will need explanations: how to maintain their security, how to get bitcoin, what software use for surfing the network, recommendations for such services and others. I was at hand with what was interesting and what was the driving force behind the movement. The site has become the number one authority in the Field of Darkness, very simply because no one has ever done the same.
“Establishing was the easiest part. But turning a site into a traffic machine required investments, skills, as well as being in the right place at the right time. The site provided a list of active Darknet sites, ranked by user confidence and ranking, with live monitoring of their activity. The only source in the world with consensus, and the only place publishers accessed on the Darknet to host their site. The big one, which is not there, did not exist at all. Ultimately, the site was an experiment with marketing opportunities that far exceeded expectations. There were also problems and opportunities, openly it was a news site and information services.”
Interviewer: How did you become famous and who were the surfers?
Prikhar: “We did not publish anything. We were a site that tracked and served everyone who had a special interest in Darknet: curious, buying, selling, investigating, law enforcement – dozens of times the information from the site was taken in presentations by the FBI, Interpole, etc. – Communication, activists. About a million or more every month. Most people found the site on Google, others went through forums, social networks, or mentioned the site on other sites.”
The US indictment describes everything a little darker. “The defendants sent hundreds of thousands of users to markets that made hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions, including the purchase of illegal drugs, such as fentanyl (a powerful analgesic – NMS), carfentanil (a drug so powerful that it is only allowed for veterinary use). For example, anesthesia for elephants and horses before surgery), cocaine, heroin, meth, weapons, including vending machines, viruses and computer hacking, stolen financial information and credit card numbers.”
The opinion of the interviewer:
For some time it worked fine, and DeepDotWeb was the gateway to the Darknet for surfers around the world. One of the biggest markets on the Darknet have been the market alpha Bay, which offered drugs, fake IDs, viruses, weapons, toxic chemicals and much more. This site was shut down by law enforcement in July 2017, but, according to the indictment, by which time almost a quarter of the transactions it generated, followed the links to the web site Freihar. Another market, called “market Hansa”, was offered heroin, cooks, services, fraud and forgery and much more. He was also closed in 2017, after the indictment was reported that it transferred about 198 000 users to him from DeepDotWeb. The proceeds were allegedly transferred through front companies in banks in Israel, Georgia and Latvia. FBI agents from Pennsylvania who has undertaken this enterprise, began to watch as dozens of residents of the state order for the channels provided by DeepDotWeb, cocaine, crystal meth, ALD and more.
After the activities of the secret agents and special police cyber-unit called CODE-J, which was established for the purpose of work on the darknet site was captured. “Sites such as DeepDotWeb, represent a global threat,” said Robert Jones, FBI special agent in charge of the investigation. The campaign must make it clear that we are following the operators of such dangerous objects. The U.S. attorney has put forward serious charges against Pricara and fun, most of which is money laundering.
The Americans issued international arrest warrants for fan and Prihar. FAN was arrested in Israel and released six days later. His lawyer, Yaron Barzilai, claims that the indictment was unintentionally issued against him, so there is currently no extradition warrant. Parihar, who was living in Brazil at that time, jumped on Easter to visit this country and stopped on the way back for a transfer at Charles de Gaulle Airport. And suddenly, four French policemen they handcuffed him to his wife and children, and since then he has been waiting for his extradition. I left my wallet for my wife, I didn’t part properly, and since then my life has ended as I knew them, he says.
Interviewer: Didn’t you know that you have an extradition warrant?
Prikhar: “No. I knew that an investigation was underway, I knew that they were dealing with me on the server. Their interrogations were about the same as that of an elephant in a china shop. About a year before the arrest, I was warned by various factors about that this will happen. But the truth is that on the whole, to this day, I really don’t know that we have committed some crime. The indictment is full of inaccuracies, lies, humiliations and weighing things beyond measure. Nevertheless, I will refer to the pending lawsuit.”
Interviewer: It is claimed that you received $ 15 million in commissions from any transaction made through you.
Prikhar: “There was no such amount. The amounts listed there for using links to illegal sites are an absolute lie. We only referred to these sites. And everything else is a productive imagination that will become clear later. We did not sell or buy anything. We used the links that appeared with us to buy from sites, and we were accused of receiving commissions for these purchases, that’s the whole charge: one point about a conspiracy to launder money. No drugs, no weapons nothing at all. Everything else is their explanation to prove the allegations.”
Interviewer: So what was your agreement with dealers?
Prikhar: “Contrary to claims, the site never charged or agreed to bribe a site listing. These terms were purely technical in nature and included security, reliability and damage reduction options. We didn’t agree with anyone. Our requirement was: to comply with minimum safety standards, do not try to steal, avoid selling materials that can harm someone, be attentive to comments and do not create unnecessary dramas.”
Interviewer: And you didn’t cut a coupon from it? Was it heaven?
Prikhar: “We were not engaged in marketing. We are marketing people who created projects to earn satisfaction on them – and money, too. This place did not exist for paradise. Not really. The charges against us refer to only ten indexed sites from hundreds of other sites. We didn’t claim that we received from any coupon. It is indisputable that at least most of the index was “for heaven” if you want to call it. The site never sold a sponsorship article. All (technological) product reviews that he provided, should have supported the product, and never for a fee, legal and illegal factors, and you will not find a single one to tell you that we managed to get us to advertise for money that we did not agree to publish without money or the other, and that is why we were considered the most reliable site in the world in this area, and there is no dispute about this.”
Interviewer: What have you done with all this money?
Prikhar: “What money? The site has earned a lot of very different and completely legal marketing channels: gambling sites on bitcoins, anonymous VPN software, bitcoin exchanges, any legal proceeds received from this site or other sites that we entered into the bank. And he paid the full tax for him. This is the smallest thing that I have left from all my income, which either the Americans intend to take away or go to the lawyers.”
Interviewer: It is alleged that you transferred part of the money to accounts abroad and in Israel.
Prikhar: “Who claimed and where did we claim that we deposited something illegal in Israel? We have a company that has been working in Israel in the field of marketing for many years. Any income from it was deposited in Israel and taxed, and that’s all legally, we are not charged with any wrongdoing in Israel, and no account has been occupied in our country.”
Interviewer: One of the allegations is that DeepDotWeb also issued warnings against the activities of various law enforcement agencies on the Darknet. “The statement that we report on the activities of law enforcement is a malicious distortion of reality in order to denigrate our faces and paint us as criminals,” Freihar says.
Prihar: “The reality is that we reported it, like all other cyber-news sites in the world, when the source of information was the publications of the law enforcement agencies themselves. Did we add the headline you have to be careful “? – Obviously, but an attempt to portray us as if we held confidential intelligence information about the activities of law enforcement agencies and made it public in order to disrupt the legislator’s transactions, this is just a scam designed to denigrate us, it’s just wrong.”
Interviewer: How did you actually settle in?
Prikhar: “I don’t know how they came and what they came up with. Only accusations. As for the links, there is no need for a cyber commando team. The links to the site have appeared for six years. The question is what happened now that they decided Judging by my impression, the trigger was a commercial site, contrary to the impression they were trying to create, this investigation did not have any difficulty to be proud of. Since we did not think it was an insult, nothing was hidden when they wanted to destroy us. PICs have to decide when it will happen.”
Interviewer: FBI agents bought drugs, etc., through your website.
Prikhar: “The undercover agent didn’t buy anything from me. He bought from the sites I referred to. Unfortunately or not, this is true.”
Priar was detained for six months in Frances prison, a 40-minute drive from Paris. This is a prison with a chilling story: during the Nazi occupation, many fighters of the French Resistance and captured British intelligence were held here. “The conditions are, to put it mildly,” said Prihar. Most people cram in a 3-4.5-square-meter room. Three people 20 hours a day. My cell is decorated with many paintings and inscriptions depicting ISIS or Nazis condemning Jews. The rooms are full of blood-sucking insects and my whole body is covered bleeding bites, there are a lot of rats in the yards, and there are many cases of tuberculosis and illnesses. I experience anti-Semitism, a lot of loneliness, sadness, anxiety and concern for the family. When I was arrested, one of the police boasted: “we caught another Jew who took money” – this is about the repeated motive of the French to me and to all foreigners, as one of them terrorist. Since I was arrested, not a single Israeli official has visited me. The only bright spot is the Chabad righteous who bring kosher food and Jewish activity, with the exception of Jews. Because cases of violence occur every half hour or so, the prison guards strain and therefore shut us down even more. The feeling here is that you are sitting on a barrel of gunpowder and just waiting to explode. Stress becomes unbearable.
Interviewer: What lesson have you learned from this case?
Prikhar: “I regret that for many years I took under my protection people who earned a lot of money working with me and Michael, only now to turn their backs on us. My lesson is that legal systems work together as a neighbor a bully, and this includes ignoring the rights of people and their children and creating precedent cases to serve their plans. The only thing that scares me is a long stay with this lack of knowledge. It is very burdensome for sanity, so hopefully soon it’s over.”
Attorney Nick Kaufman, Attorney at Law Tal Tal Prihar: A hearing on the extradition request will be held in a Paris court in December this year.
Attorney Yaron Barzilai, Attorney for Michael Fan: My client has never been investigated in the United States for his attributable charges. Moreover, after he was investigated in Israel for these crimes, he was released.
This interview ends, but not the suffering for Tal Prihar. We hope that he will be released from prison and his request for extradition to the United States will be rejected. We, the Darknetstat team, fully support Tal Tal Prihar, his family, and demand his safe, secure release from prison. The charges against him are baseless and have nothing to do with reality. He is being held in prison, as if he were some kind of big mafia boss. This should stop as soon as possible.
John Marsh and The Darknetstats Team