Conjuring up images of Hillary and her team bashing Blackberry phones with hammers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Mirando revealed in a court hearing Friday that embattled Congressional IT staffer Imran Awan apparently wiped his cell phone clean just hours before being arrested by the FBI at Dulles airport while attempting to flee to Pakistan. As Forbes points out this morning, this new information came out in a hearing in which Awan’s attorney argued that his curfew should be lifted and his ankle bracelet removed.
Imran Awan, the IT professional Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) kept on her congressional payroll long after it became known he was under investigation by the Capitol Police, wiped his phone hours before he was arrested last July.
But we are just starting to learn about this case. This is new revelation that Awan wiped his phone just before he attempted to fly away to Pakistan came out last Friday when Awan appeared in court.
Awan’s attorney, Chris Gowen, argued that Awan should have his curfew lifted and that the tracking device on his ankle should be removed.
This prompted Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Mirando to say that when Imran was arrested at Dulles International Airport a cellphone found on him “had been wiped clean just a few hours before.”
Awan’s attorney, and long-time Clinton employee (see: Arrested DNC Staffer Awan Retains Long-Time Clinton Associate For Legal Help), Chris Gowen tried to argue that Awan’s phone was blank because he had just purchased it while seemingly hoping that the FBI had simply overlooked the “.obliterate file” that was created when the phone was intentionally wiped clean.
Gowen tried to counter this by telling the judge: “Awan had recently bought the phone, so of course it didn’t have any data on it.”
But Mirando countered by saying the FBI found that the phone had been wiped on purpose. A time stamp on the iPhone indicated it had been wiped at 6:30 p.m. that evening (Awan was arrested around 10 p.m.). Awan also had a laptop on him, but one of the few things on the computer was a resume. Mirando used this and other details—such as that the Awan’s quickly sold many of their Virginia properties—to explain that Imran had no intention of returning.
The iPhone Awan was carrying has a feature built in that allows someone to wipe it before they sell it. Investigators were nevertheless able to determine when it was wiped because the phone created a “.obliterated” file with a time stamp.
There are some cases where an iPhone won’t create a .obliterated file that can be easily found, but there are other techniques used by investigators to uncover and see when an iPhone was wiped.
Awan might be a savvy former IT professional, but in this case the FBI was able to see that he purposely deleted data before showing up for his flight to Pakistan. Awan knew his wife had been detained temporarily at the airport and questioned, so he had reason to believe the same would happen to him.
Shockingly, Gowen didn’t use his former employer’s ‘like with a cloth’ defense which proved so effective for Hillary…