Telegram Founder Tells Tucker Carlson that US Intel Agents Tried to Spy on User Messages – Matt Lamb 4/18/24


Federal law enforcement tried to convince a Telegram engineer to change the software so law enforcement could read the messages of its users, the company’s founder told Tucker Carlson during a recent interview.

But he also warned the bigger threat to free expression comes from Google and Apple, which effectively control the use of apps on smartphones.

Telegram is a messaging app that founder Pavel Durov created with his brother after experiencing harassment by Russian officials. Durov remains the “sole owner” of the company. Users can set up “channels” to send mass messages. This function has been useful for political movements, including democracy activists in Hong Kong.

It now has 900 million monthly users worldwide. It uses encrypted messaging which protects users’ privacy.

Born in the Soviet Union in 1984, the entrepreneur had created another social media company; it predated Facebook but was similar in its networking functions. Russian officials demanded Durov hand over private data from groups on the platform, called VK, that were organizing against Vladimir Putin and the country’s leadership.

But in some ways, he faced similar problems from American officials when he was working in San Francisco.

“We get too much attention from the FBI, the security agencies, wherever we came to the US,” Durov said. “So, to give you an example, last time I was in the US, I brought an engineer [who] is working for Telegram, and there was an attempt to secretly hire my engineer behind my back by cyber security officers or agents, whatever they are called.”

Durov said the officials “were curious to learn which open-source library site integrated through Telegram’s app,” he said.

Intel agencies tried to create a backdoor into Telegram, founder tells Tucker Carlson.

— Matt Lamb (@MattLamb22) April 18, 2024

But furthermore, “they were trying to persuade him to use certain open-source tools that he would then integrate into the Telegram code that, in my understanding, would serve as backdoors.”

“Would that allow the US government to spy on people who use Telegram?” Carlson asked.

“The US government, or maybe any other government, because a backdoor is a backdoor regardless of who is using it. That’s right,” Durov said.

“You’re confident that happened,” Carlson asked, about the recruitment efforts.

Durov said yes, because the engineer wouldn’t have a reason to make up the story and Durov shared that he himself has been targeted by the intelligence agencies for recruitment.

He told Carlson:

There is no reason for my engineer to make up the stories. Also, because I personally experienced similar pressure in the U.S whenever I would go to the US, I would have, two FBI agents greeting me at the airport, asking questions. One time I was having my breakfast at 9 a.m. and the FBI showed up at my house that I was renting. And, that was quite surprising. And I thought, you know, we’re getting too much attention here. It’s probably not the best environment to run…

… They were interested to learn more about Telegram. They knew I left Russia. They knew what we were doing, but they wanted details. And my understanding is that they wanted to establish a relationship, to, in a way control Telegram better… I understand they were doing their job. It’s just that for us, running a privacy focused social media platform, that probably wasn’t the best environment to be in. We want to be focused on what we do, not on the government relations of that sort….

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