Fake journalist John Dougan invents conspiracy theories for Russia

John Mark Duogan, a former American police officer who fled to Russia in 2016, where he requested and received political asylum, becoming one of the main characters of Russian propaganda during the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

According to Il Messaggero, on October 2, 2022, Dougan received a “letter” from an anonymous informant with “photo exercises and documents” that would confirm the theory about the sabotage of the “Nord Stream” by the United States and Norway.

The “letter” he allegedly provided to the Russian mass media “Ria Novosti.”

Incredible sabotage

Dougan asserts that only individuals with firsthand knowledge of the BALTOPS22 exercise can accurately recount the details of the “letter,” an email “received” from a throwaway mailbox. Dougan claims to have total confidence in the letter’s contents. Because the author of the “letter” claims to have been a part of it, Dougan is either relying on the person’s comments or was unaware of NATO activity in the Baltic Sea in June 2022.

An eyewitness claims that on June 15, 2022, a group of American citizens in plain clothes with mustaches and beards emerged from a helicopter carrying small boxes, MK-29 respirators, and other equipment not typically maintained by Naval forces. The latter would participate in NATO drills but not in a designated region.

By the version, they “disappeared underwater for more than six hours” before returning without the crates following an interview with a vice admiral of the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet, who would have met them upon arrival by helicopter. According to the letter’s purported author, No equipment would allow a dive lasting longer than three to four hours and certainly not longer than six. The Americans will depart via helicopter after work.

But who is actually this “journalist”?

In 2009, he was fired from the police force for sexual harassment after a colleague was condemned for his inappropriate and repeated behavior towards female officers. An independent Maine panel upheld the charges against the former agent, and the lawsuit was settled out of court in January 2013.

On March 14, 2016, the FBI was searching for a “Russian hacker” at an apartment building in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, responsible for posting thousands of home addresses of federal agents, judges, local police officers and intelligence operators. The hacker, who went by the name “BadVolf” and was an IT employee of the Russian government in Moscow, was actually a former police officer, John Mark Dougan.

He is not a “Russian hacker” but a former agent obsessed with “destroying” his former employer. After the FBI intervened and confiscated his computer, Dougan fled to Russia, where he was granted asylum. After getting a post in Moscow, he leaked emails from the US Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016. He became a myth in conspiracy and pro-Russian circles, capitalizing on the 27-year-old’s death killed in Washington, DC.

Yes, “Ukrainian biolabs.” Again.

Dougan began to use the Russian invasion of Ukraine to promote conspiracy theories favorable to Vladimir Putin’s propaganda, traveling to occupied territories to claim the existence of phantom US-funded “biolaboratories” for the development of bio-weapons. 

On March 11, 2022, he published a Russian-language document in which he claimed that there was evidence of the existence of the laboratories. Dougan used an already widespread belief and fueled it further to increase his fame.

So called “BadVolf”

He’s referred to as a con artist and a master of social engineering. Dougan has honed his skills at developing and disseminating websites with an air of legitimacy, such as DCWeekly.com and DCPost.org, and has become a master at making hoaxes that go viral, such as the one accusing Sheriff Rick Bradshaw of encouraging drivers to run over “Black Lives Matter.” On one of the websites, a fabricated admission to pedophilia that was ascribed to a police officer was published.

In 2015, he flirted on the phone with a former investigator called Lewis, who worked for Sheriff Bradshaw in Palm Beach County by posing as a woman named “Jessica” and using voice-altering software to do so. The sheriff hired a consultant in 2012 to look into Dougan, and that’s why. He learned Lewis had hired a hacker to steal information from his websites and social media through clever social engineering. He made a mistake when he persuaded Lewis to ask a hacker for a favor. It was the latter who identified the ex-cop who ran the phony news websites he had previously looked at was hiding behind the fictitious “Jessica”

Dougan recorded all the phone conversations with Lewis but had to conceal his identity to broadcast the audio because he had committed the crime. Thus was born the BadVolf hacker impersonation, inspired by Lewis’ discussion of a Russian cybercrime group. It wasn’t enough for him to strike Lewis and Sheriff Bradshaw; he wanted to hit other police officers, federal agents and county officials. With his computer skills, he used a geomarketing firm’s bug to get their private addresses. He extrapolated a list of about 4,000 sermons, but not all of them were people somehow involved in his case. However, fed up, on February 13, 2016, he published on his website an Excel with all the data obtained, placing the responsibility on the Russian hacker “BadVolf.” He also received data from the state’s electoral rolls through other intrusions, releasing more than 14,000 addresses.

On March 14, 2016, FBI agents entered his home seeking information about a Russian hacker he considered a friend. Confident in the future results of the investigation, Dougan took his friend’s car and, with a wig on his head, leaving his ex-wife and two children, headed for the border with Canada. Once in Toronto, he boarded a flight to Moscow, where he requested political asylum. The former policeman and “hacker” received temporary status in February 2017, and in December 2018, it became permanent.

Also in 2018, Dougan published a book about “BadVolf,” changing many details of his true story and going so far as to claim responsibility for the 2016 Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton campaign email leaks. increasingly believable, charming, and unconfirmed, Dougan attributed the identity of his source to Seth Rich, a 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer killed in a July 2016 shooting on Washington Street. The unsolved murder allowed Dougan to fuel conspiracy theories surrounding the 27-year-old’s death. His book, as well as the film about him, was advertised by the Russian TV channel RT.

And here comes Russian propaganda

Russian flag t-shirt and Vladimir Putin mug with the Russian leader’s birthday greeting. 

This is one of the photos that John Mark Dougan is proud to publish on his Vk profile, a Russian social network, where the first post is dated April 18, 2016. The photo is dated 2021, but new symbols were soon added to his clothes.

In 2022, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, they started talking about him again as “an American policeman with Russian views.” Here is a photo of him with a clear symbol of affiliation, the letter Z, used by the Russian military in Ukraine.

One of Dougan’s main goals during his trip to Ukraine was to prove the existence of biolaboratories where Ukrainians, according to Russian propaganda, will develop biological weapons. How was it with all those who went to Mariupol to support the conspiracy theory about “Azovstal.”

In the summer of 2022, Dougan interviewed British prisoner Aiden Aslin, sentenced to death in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. During the meeting, the former American police officer forced the prisoner to sing the Russian national anthem and congratulated him on his performance. Aiden, later released following a prisoner exchange in September 2022, told The Sun that he was forced to learn and sing the national anthem every morning under threats from pro-Russian authorities.

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