Activist who exposed Hunter Biden laptop data flees to Switzerland

Activist who exposed Hunter Biden laptop data flees to Switzerland
Conservative critics have alleged that Hunter Biden, the president’s second son, partnered with his uncle James Biden to exploit Joe Biden’s political influence to win multimillion-dollar contracts in Ukraine and China. (AFP)
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Updated 08 April 2022

Activist who exposed Hunter Biden laptop data flees to Switzerland

Activist who exposed Hunter Biden laptop data flees to Switzerland
  • James Maxey plans to post all of the data from the laptop, which includes more than 80,000 files, 1.7 gigabytes of data and 8,000 emails, online in the coming weeks
  • Former Bannon colleague suggested he feared he could be killed in the US, telling Newsmax he was being followed by ‘black SUVs’

CHICAGO: The whistleblower who sent the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop to members of Congress, triggering a congressional investigation in October 2019, says he has fled to Switzerland to escape surveillance by “bad actors” and members of the FBI.

During an interview on the conservative cable TV channel Newsmax on Thursday, Jack Maxey said he posted many of the files from Biden’s computer online, but that the documents were “taken down” by US intelligence agencies.

Allegations of influence-peddling by Joe Biden’s son to secure lucrative contracts poses a political threat to the president’s ability to hold on to Congress during the midterm elections in November.

Conservative critics have alleged since 2018 that Hunter Biden, the president’s second son, partnered with his uncle James Biden to exploit Joe Biden’s political influence to win multimillion-dollar contracts in Ukraine and China.

The allegations gained momentum when Hunter Biden’s personal laptop fell into the hands of Republican congressmen. He took the laptop to a Delaware computer repair store in April 2019 — the same month his father officially launched his bid for the presidency — but forgot to pick it up. After being abandoned, the laptop legally became the property of the store’s owner, who took its contents, including thousands of Hunter Biden’s personal emails, and turned them over to Republican activists, who quickly called for an investigation.

One of the conservative activists who got a copy of the laptop’s hard drive was Maxey, who co-hosted the podcast “The War Room” with Steve Bannon, a former campaign adviser to Donald Trump.

The initial emails released from the laptop, according to several published accounts, include lurid details of a decadent lifestyle, as well as information pertaining to Hunter Biden’s contracts in China and Ukraine.

In 2014, for example, Hunter Biden joined Ukraine’s state-owned natural gas company Burisma as a $1 million-per-year consultant. Less than a month after his then-vice president father visited Ukraine and met Burisma executives in April that year, the lucrative contracts began rolling in.

A top US diplomat stationed in Kyiv warned in a classified email sent to the State Department in 2016 that Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine, while his father was still vice president, “undercut” anti-corruption efforts in the country. That email, dated Nov. 22, 2016, was written by George Kent, who at the time was the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Ukraine.

Republicans in Congress introduced a resolution on Oct. 15, 2019, that provided specific details culled from the laptop and demanded an investigation into Hunter Biden’s Ukraine dealings.

Maxey said he fled to Switzerland recently after fearing he was being surveilled by “bad actors” and the FBI. He told British tabloid The Daily Mail that he feared retaliation. Maxey told the newspaper he plans to post all of the data from the laptop, which includes more than 80,000 files, 1.7 gigabytes of data and 8,000 emails, online in the coming weeks.

Maxey said he posted the files on another site but they were quickly taken down by “US intelligence agencies,” implicating the Biden administration in covering up the scandal.

“We chose five different drop boxes around the world. One in New Zealand, two in the United States, two in the United Kingdom,” Maxey told Newsmax, adding that his objective “is to expose the truth.”

He added: “In each case, the material that we put on there, and it was a relatively small amount, 8,000 emails, they were taken down in under 70 minutes. I would say that the vast majority were taken down in under 15 minutes.”

Dalia Al-Aqidi, a conservative columnist and senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy, said: “This issue has been largely covered up in the liberal media and social media platforms to minimize its negative effect on the 2020 presidential elections.

“Nobody cares about Hunter Biden’s personal life nor his lifestyle as a private citizen; however, the issue is much more complicated than that. Americans deserve to know what role President Biden had played in his son’s business and what services were offered by Hunter in order to get paid thousands of dollars. Did he offer access to his father, and did the president benefit from his son’s deals? A transparent and bipartisan investigation is due now. Better late than never.”

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California’s 50th District told Arab News last week that the Hunter Biden controversy is “the most consequential political scandal since Watergate, and it deserves an investigation in Congress no less robust and no less bipartisan than that one.”

Maxey suggested he feared he could be killed, telling Newsmax he was being followed by “black SUVs.” He said he feels less vulnerable to harassment in Switzerland and has friends there who could help him release the documents.

“I’m constantly reminded that I’m American and plenty of better men than me are taking dirt naps. I’m going to keep my oath to defend the constitution against all enemies. Foreign and domestic,” he said.


‘Tinder Swindler’ victim continues to look for love on dating show

‘Tinder Swindler’ victim continues to look for love on dating show
Updated 28 November 2022

‘Tinder Swindler’ victim continues to look for love on dating show

‘Tinder Swindler’ victim continues to look for love on dating show
  • Hayut told Newsbeat that he denies the accusations shown in the Netflix documentary

LONDON: If you watched “The Tindler Swindler,” Netflix’s hit documentary about fraudster Simon Leviev, whose real name is Shimon Hayut, then you will definitely recognize Cecilie Fjellhoy.  

Fjellhoy was one of the women whom Hayut duped out of thousands of pounds by posing as a wealthy heir.  

Five years on, Fjellhoy, 33, is ready to find love again and is appearing on “Celebs Go Dating,” a show where a cast of stars — often from reality shows like “Love Island” and “The Only Way is Essex” — go on dates with non-celebrities. 

Speaking at the series launch, Fjellhoy said to BBC’S Newsbeat: “I don’t feel like a celeb. I don’t want people to think that I look at myself like a celeb, but I really appreciate that my face is actually known around the world. I am blessed that I’m able to do ‘Celebs Go Dating’ and show a different side to me.”

Fjellhoy seems optimistic about dating after her debacle. She explains she finds dating “fun” and will “continue to have with it.”  

She is even back on Tinder. “I never looked at Tinder as the one to be blamed for what happened to me because I met him in real life,” she said, “but I think I went a bit too quick back on the apps.” 

Following the release of “The Tinder Swindler,” Fjellhoy received an outpouring of sympathetic reactions from viewers. However, she was also at the receiving hand of misogynistic comments from people who labeled her as a “gold digger” and deserving of the unfortunate events that befell her.  

Fjellhoy said she is expecting a backlash to her dating show appearance, saying, “Trolling always happens. I’ve learnt not to read (the comments).”

She believes, however, that is important to shine a light on such comments, explaining that they can be “dangerous.”

“It’s fun to laugh about it, but it can be dangerous in the long run,” she said.  

Fjellhoy has been campaigning for more awareness on romance fraud and is calling for training for police and healthcare professionals so that victims can feel better supported. She also wants to help remove some of the stigma surrounding scams so people can feel less ashamed about seeking help if they do fall prey to fraudsters.  

Speaking on Hayut’s release, Fjellhoy said it is “disheartening” and that her goal was to “keep people protected from people like him.” 

In 2019, Hayut was convicted of four charges of fraud, not relating to Fjellhoy’s allegations, and was sentenced to a total of 15 months in prison. He was released after serving only five. Previously in Denmark, in 2015, he was sentenced for defrauding three women. 

Hayut told Newsbeat that he denies the accusations shown in the Netflix documentary. 

Fjellhoy said she unexpectedly ran into Hayut at a beach club in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he currently resides.   

She said she waved at him and continued on. “I am not scared of him. He cannot hurt me anymore,” she said. 

Hayut claims he reported her Tel Aviv visit to the Israeli police and accused her of harassment.  

Fjellhoy says she still receives messages from people, young and old, sharing their own stories of romance fraud. Her advice to them is to speak out if they believe they are being scammed, to reach out to family and friends and to recount their experiences. She also advises them to contact the banks as “they’re not your enemy.” 

She said: “The thing with fraud (is that) you don’t realize red flags when they’re happening. That’s why it’s dangerous. When you realize you’ve been defrauded, go to the police, go to the bank.”


FIFA World Cup frenzy puts strain on Qatar’s camels

FIFA World Cup frenzy puts strain on Qatar’s camels
Updated 28 November 2022

FIFA World Cup frenzy puts strain on Qatar’s camels

FIFA World Cup frenzy puts strain on Qatar’s camels
  • As Qatar welcomes more than a million fans for the monthlong FIFA World Cup, even its camels are working overtime

MESAIEED, Qatar: Shaheen stretched out on the sand and closed his eyes, but there was little time to rest for the camel. World Cup fans coming in droves to the desert outside Doha were ready for their perfect Instagram moment: riding a camel on the rolling dunes.
As Qatar welcomes more than a million fans for the monthlong World Cup, even its camels are working overtime. Visitors in numbers the tiny emirate has never before seen are rushing to finish a bucket list of Gulf tourist experiences between games: ride on a camel’s back, take pictures with falcons and wander through the alleyways of traditional markets.
On a recent Friday afternoon, hundreds of visitors in football uniforms or draped in flags waited for their turn to mount the humpbacked animals. Camels that did not rise were forced up by their handlers. When one camel let out a loud grunt, a woman from Australia shrieked, “it sounds like they’re being violated!” Nearby, a group of men from Mexico dressed in white Qatari thobes and headdresses took selfies.
“It’s really an amazing feeling because you feel so tall,” 28-year-old Juan Gaul said after his ride. The Argentine fan was visiting Qatar for a week from Australia.
Cashing in on the opportunity are the animals’ handlers who, thanks to the World Cup, are making several times more than they normally would.
“There’s a lot of money coming in,” said Ali Jaber Al-Ali, a 49-year-old Bedouin camel herder from Sudan. “Thank god, but it’s a lot of pressure.”
Al-Ali came to Qatar 15 years ago but has worked with camels since he was a child. On an average weekday before the World Cup, Al-Ali said his company would offer around 20 rides per day and 50 on weekends. Since the World Cup started, Al-Ali and the men he works with are providing 500 rides in the morning and another 500 in the evening. The company went from having 15 camels to 60, he said.
“Tour guides want to move things fast,” Al-Ali said, “so they add pressure on us.”
As crowds formed around them, many camels sat statue-like with cloth muzzles covering their mouths and bright saddles on their bodies. The smell of dung filled the air.
Like other Gulf cultures, camels once provided Qataris a vital form of transport and helped in the exploration and development of trade routes. Today, the ungulates figure into cultural pastimes: camel racing is a popular sport that takes place on old-school tracks outside the city.
Al-Ali said he knows when an animal is tired — usually if it refuses to get up or sits back down after rising to its feet. He can identify each camel by its facial features.
“I am a Bedouin. I come from a family of Bedouins who care for camels. I grew up loving them,” Al-Ali said.
But the sudden rise in tourists means there’s less time to rest between rides, he said. A short ride lasts just 10 minutes while longer ones run 20 to 30 minutes long.
Normally, Al-Ali said a camel can rest after five rides. “Now, people are saying we can’t wait ... because they have other plans they need to go to in the middle of the desert,” he said.
Since the World Cup started, the animals are taken for 15 to 20 — sometimes even 40 rides — without a break.
His day starts around 4:30 a.m., when he feeds the animals and gets them ready for customers. Some tourists have been arriving at dawn, Al-Ali said, hoping to get the perfect sunrise shot, “so we have to work with them and take photos for them.”
From midday until 2 p.m., both handlers and camels rest, he said. “Then we start getting ready for the afternoon battle.”
But not every visitor has been taken by the experience.
Pablo Corigliano, a 47-year-old real estate agent from Buenos Aires, said he was hoping for something more authentic. The excursions start on a stretch of desert by the side of a highway, not far from the industrial city of Mesaieed and its vast oil refineries.
“I was expecting something more wild,” said Corigliano. “I thought I would be crossing the desert, but when I arrived, I saw a typical tourist point.”
Soon after, Corigliano and a group of friends looked for a dune buggy to race into the desert.


Ex-Miss Croatia challenges Qatari authorities with provoking outfits at World Cup

Ex-Miss Croatia challenges Qatari authorities with provoking outfits at World Cup
Updated 28 November 2022

Ex-Miss Croatia challenges Qatari authorities with provoking outfits at World Cup

Ex-Miss Croatia challenges Qatari authorities with provoking outfits at World Cup
  • Organizers in Doha must “respect my way of life,” beauty queen says in social media post

DOHA: A former winner of the Miss Croatias pageant came under intense scrutiny after challenging Qatar’s stringent World Cup dress code rules with provocative clothing, bluntly stating the host nation “needs to respect my way of life.”

Ivana Knoll, 30, has been a regular sight for sore eyes throughout World Cups — gaining fame for her racey outfits donning her native country’s colours.

“You are in Qatar not in Croatia, you have to respect the rules, it is a Muslim country”, one user posted, another told her “if you did not know that it is forbidden to wear these clothes in an Arab country, and you must respect our customs, traditions and religion.”

Another user called it "disrespectful to the Qatari culture".

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ivana Knöll (@knolldoll)

 

Qatar has a strict dress code when it comes to tourists attending the sporting event, requiring attendees to keep modest with their outfits.

The gulf nation’s tourism board reiterated to football fans that they must “show respect for local culture by avoiding excessively revealing clothing in public.” 

Knoll stated on social media that the country needs to respect her way of life, and that its “unfair for all fans.”

The beauty queen-turned-model wore a figure-revealing dress to Croatia’s stalemate-ending opener against Morocco, and proceeded to post the images on Instagram while tagging FIFA.


FIFA World Cup: Wales fan dies in Qatar after ‘medical incident’

FIFA World Cup: Wales fan dies in Qatar after ‘medical incident’
Updated 28 November 2022

FIFA World Cup: Wales fan dies in Qatar after ‘medical incident’

FIFA World Cup: Wales fan dies in Qatar after ‘medical incident’
  • Kevin Davies, 62, had not attended the Wales match against Iran after feeling ill
  • He was rushed to Doha Hamad General Hospital after ‘medical incident’ at apartment where he was staying

LONDON: The UK Foreign Office is supporting the family of a Wales fan who died in Qatar on Friday while attending the World Cup, Sky News has reported.
Kevin Davies, 62, from the Welsh county of Pembrokeshire, was rushed to Doha Hamad General Hospital on Friday following what is being described as a “medical incident” at the apartment where he was staying. He had not attended the Wales match against Iran after feeling ill.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said British officials are “supporting the family of a British man who has died in Qatar.”
Noel Mooney, CEO of the Football Association of Wales, tweeted: “So sorry to hear that one of our supporters has passed away here. Our condolences go to the family and of course we are here to support however we can.”
It is believed more than 2,500 Wales supporters have gone to Qatar for the World Cup — Wales’ first since 1958 — which has seen them draw with the US and lose to Iran.


NASA Orion spacecraft enters lunar orbit: officials

NASA Orion spacecraft enters lunar orbit: officials
Updated 26 November 2022

NASA Orion spacecraft enters lunar orbit: officials

NASA Orion spacecraft enters lunar orbit: officials
  • “The orbit is distant in that Orion will fly about 40,000 miles above the Moon,” NASA said

WASHINGTON: NASA’s Orion spacecraft was placed in lunar orbit Friday, officials said, as the much-delayed Moon mission proceeded successfully.
A little over a week after the spacecraft blasted off from Florida bound for the Moon, flight controllers “successfully performed a burn to insert Orion into a distant retrograde orbit,” the US space agency said on its web site.
The spacecraft is to take astronauts to the Moon in the coming years — the first to set foot on its surface since the last Apollo mission in 1972.
This first test flight, without a crew on board, aims to ensure that the vehicle is safe.
“The orbit is distant in that Orion will fly about 40,000 miles above the Moon,” NASA said.
While in lunar orbit, flight controllers will monitor key systems and perform checkouts while in the environment of deep space, the agency said.
It will take Orion about a week to complete half an orbit around the Moon. It will then exit the orbit for the return journey home, according to NASA.
On Saturday, the ship is expected to go up to 40,000 miles beyond the Moon, a record for a habitable capsule. The current record is held by the Apollo 13 spacecraft at 248,655 miles (400,171 km) from Earth.
It will then begin the journey back to Earth, with a landing in the Pacific Ocean scheduled for December 11, after just over 25 days of flight.
The success of this mission will determine the future of the Artemis 2 mission, which will take astronauts around the Moon without landing, then Artemis 3, which will finally mark the return of humans to the lunar surface.
Those missions are scheduled to take place in 2024 and 2025, respectively.