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Russian Federation says terrorists used Telegram to coordinate attack

26 June 2017

General view of emergency services attending the scene outside Sennaya Ploshchad metro station, following explosions in two train carriages in St Petersburg April 3, 2017.

Russia's FSB security agency on Monday said the militants involved in the suicide bombing in St Petersburg in April, in which 15 people were killed, had used the Telegram messaging app to carry out the attack, AFP reported.

Now the FSB has said that as part of its investigation into the St Petersburg attack it "received reliable information about the use of Telegram by the suicide bomber, his accomplices and their mastermind overseas to hide their criminal plots at all the stages of preparation for the terrorist attack".

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The furor over Telegram has largely played out in public, with Russian officials from an oversight agency sparring in open letters with Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram and emigre enfant bad of the Russian start-up scene.

They used Telegram "at each stage of the preparation of this terrorist attack", it said. It has attracted about 100 million users since its launch in 2013.

Zharov also made a response on Durov's statement on Vkontakte, saying "Durov's statement is neutral to terrorists and criminals who use his messenger and it totally ignores the safety of Telegram users".

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The FSB charged that "the members of the global terrorist organisations on Russian territory use Telegram".

A popular encrypted messaging app is on the brink of being banned in Russian Federation amid accusations that it helps terrorists to plot atrocities. These new laws want all foreign companies operating in Russia to store the personal data of Russian citizens dating to past six months, as well as encryption keys within the country.

Writing on social media, Telegram founder Pavel Durov said on Monday that the communications regulator had also asked his company to hand over the keys to allow the security services to decrypt user messages in order to catch terrorists.

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Draft legislation that has already secured initial backing in parliament would make it illegal for messaging services to have anonymous users.

Russian Federation says terrorists used Telegram to coordinate attack