Cellebrite tool used to extract data from Lev Parnas' iPhone for impeachment trial

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Documents released to support the impeachment trial include information seemingly taken from an iPhone by Cellebrite — the firm believed to have performed similar extractions for the FBI.

Alongside the Articles of Impeachment of President Trump, Democrats in the House of Representatives have sent a series of additional documents to the Senate. This "additional evidence" includes notes and messages which were extracted from an iPhone owned by Lev Parnas, associate of the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

The data was taken from Parnas's iPhone via software from Cellebrite, the Israeli company previously used by the FBI. In this case, the data does not appear to have been forcibly extracted, however, as the documentation notes that Parnas agreed to co-operate with the inquiry.

Cellebrite software was used to collect and collate conversations that Parnas had "communicated via encrypted messaging applications, particularly WhatsApp."

Extract from the document collating WhatsApp conversations
Extract from the document collating WhatsApp conversations

"During the impeachment inquiry, we issued a subpoena to associates of Rudy Giuliani who were involved in the President's scheme," wrote Chairs Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Eliot Engel (D-NY) in a statement. "One of those individuals is Lev Parnas, who responded to his subpoena by turning over a trove of documents that provide more information about the effort to coerce Ukraine into helping the President's reelection campaign."

Part of the data submitted on two flash drives includes a PDF report called "Parnas Excerpts Translated Slide Deck," which features WhatsApp conversations recreated in the format Cellebrite's software uses.

In all, 21 pages of screenshot conversations are included. Much of it is redacted and all of it is marked as containing only a rough translation of the Russian messages.

The Cellebrite company has previously claimed it can retrieve data from any iPhone. It is believed to have been used by the Justice Department to gain access to an iPhone linked to the 2015 San Bernardino shootings.

Cellebrite has now also recently announced it is expanding its data extraction work to include Macs.

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