‘Crazy Che’ (‘El Crazy Che’): Film Review 1

Courtesy of Metiche Films

Courtesy of Metiche Films

8:19 AM PST 11/28/2015 by Jonathan Holland, The Hollywood Reporter

An Argentinean doc about an American double agent in the 80s and 90s.

At giddying speed, Crazy Che strips back,the life and times of Bill Gaede, a driven American who during the 80s and 90s dealt in industrial espionage: first for Cuba and the Soviet Union, and then for the U.S. Anyone who’s ever suspected that the spying game is just that — an elaborate way for certain kinds of driven people to keep themselves entertained — will find their suspicions confirmed by a documentary that’s just as fast and frenzied as its distinctive hero.

Digital surveillance may mean that the days of the good old, raincoat-wearing, fast-thinking spy, of which Gaede is definitely one, are numbered, which makes Crazy Che, with its 80s cassette tapes and handicams, a bit of a nostalgic homage too. Festivals should warm to a well-put together package with no pretentions other than to properly tell a good yarn.

The original intention of directors Iacouzzi and Chehebar — whose radically different last film was about a plague of Patagonian beavers — was to shoot a doc about Argentinean scientists working abroad. But when they came across the unlikely figure of Gaede – now a physics professor working in Germany, and working on his theory of the universe – they understandably changed their minds.

In his 20s, Gaede became seduced by the high ideals of Communism and Castro, and decided to supply them with technical information about integrated circuitry produced at the large Silicon Valley company where he worked. Rarely has the manufacture of microchips been filmed as excitingly as it is here.

He was invited to Cuba to meet Castro, but that never happened — instead, the poverty he saw in Havana disillusioned him with communism. Falling in with the likes of Jose ‘Pepe’ Cohen and Roland (sic) Sarraf Trujillo (recently released from jail following the Cuban thaw and referenced by President Obama himself in one of the film’s final sequences) Gaede did an about turn and started supplying classified Cuban info to the FBI with the aim of overthrowing his former hero Castro. Gaede doesn’t seem to care much who falls, but it all ended for him with 33 months in jail.

Review continues here:  Crazy Che

 

 

 

US-Cuban Cooperation in Law Enforcement: Past Failures Reborn 3

FBI Wanted PosterBy Chris Simmons

Two days ago, the State Department proudly announced its hosting of an “inaugural Law Enforcement Dialogue” with the Castro regime.

While this idea may seem new to the White House, Washington and Havana actually have a long history of failed cooperation in the law enforcement and security arenas. For example, following Cuba’s November 1995 arrest of Directorate of Intelligence (DI) communications specialist Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, regime authorities rightfully assumed it was only a matter of time before the US began finding and arresting many of its US-based spies. In anticipation, several months later, Havana took the self-serving step of providing “intelligence reporting” to the FBI on alleged anti-Castro activities by Cuban exiles in Florida. Most of the “intelligence” was little more than newspaper clippings and summaries of TV and radio commentaries.

Viewed as a waste of time by Washington authorities, the meetings actually accomplished an important hidden agenda. In 1998, 10 members of the Wasp Network were arrested in South Florida. Almost immediately, Cuba revealed its previously secret 1996 meetings with the FBI and claimed it told the Bureau it had agents in Florida for “defensive purposes” to protect it from Cuban-Americans. During the Wasp’s subsequent trial, Havana incessantly highlighted its alleged cooperation with US law enforcement and was even allowed to send Roberto Hernandez Caballero, a career Directorate of Counterintelligence (DCI) officer, to testify on its spies’ behalf.

In 2011, Havana mocked the US legal system by again sending Colonel Hernandez Caballero to testify in a US court – this time against anti-Castro militant, Luis Posada Carriles.

Similarly, decades earlier, when several senior Cuban officials were indicted for their participation in regime-sanctioned drug trafficking, Havana quickly attempted to showcase past efforts at counterdrug cooperation with the US Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Administration.

Given the institutionalized consistency of the Castro regime’s senior leaders, this latest initiative is doomed to failure — just like every one of its predecessors.

Cuban National Released in White House Deal with Havana Now Back in the U.S. 3

Rolando Sarraff in 1996, the year he was imprisoned by the Cuban government (L)and more recently (R). Sarraff was sentenced to jail by the Cuban government for spying for the United States. He was freed in a prisoner exchange with the United States last month. (Family photo)

Rolando Sarraff in 1996, the year he was imprisoned by the Cuban government (L) and more recently (R). Sarraff was sentenced to jail by the Cuban government for spying for the United States. He was freed in a prisoner exchange with the United States last month. (Family photo)

By Missy Ryan, Washington Post

A Cuban national imprisoned for nearly two decades as an American spy is now in the United States, his family said Tuesday, the first confirmation of the former U.S. agent’s whereabouts since he was released in last month’s deal to overhaul ties with Cuba.

Rolando Sarraff, a cryptographer with Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence, was imprisoned in 1995 on suspicion that he was passing secrets to the United States. Information provided by Sarraff helped U.S. officials dismantle networks of Cuban spies in the United States, one illustration of the mutual hostility that characterized U.S. dealings with Communist Cuba for more than 50 years.

The White House secured Sarraff’s release last month as part of President Obama’s sweeping agreement to thaw U.S. ties with the island nation. The deal also included the return of an American aid contractor held by Havana and the release of three Cuban intelligence agents imprisoned in the United States.

But since the deal was announced Dec. 17, Obama administration officials have declined to confirm whether Sarraff was taken to the United States, or whether he was in U.S. government custody somewhere else. For weeks, family members in Cuba, Spain and the United States said they had not been informed by either the U.S. or the Cuban government about his whereabouts.

This week, his sister, who lives in Spain, said she finally heard from her brother. “He’s well, and he’s in the U.S.,” Vilma Sarraff told The Washington Post. She declined to give details.

The Sarraff family’s confirmation of the former agent’s whereabouts were first reported Tuesday by the Associated Press

Missy Ryan writes about the Pentagon, military issues, and national security for The Washington Post.

 

Cuba’s Vested Interest in Discrediting CIA Spy Rolando Sarraf Trujillo 9

Raul Castro

Raul Castro

By Chris Simmons

In December, Rolando “Roly” Sarraf Trujillo was identified as the high-value American spy traded for three Cuba spies. In the weeks since, some Republicans, a self-serving former Cuban spy named Bill Gaede, and the Castro regime have joined forces to diminish the importance of Roly’s service to America.

The Republicans are motivated by their mistrust of President Obama. In contrast, Havana’s attacks are driven by the fear its global spy networks will realize they have been betrayed – not by Sarraf Trujillo — but rather by their Cuban masters. Over the last 20 years, a “perfect storm” of events came together to make Havana’s agent communications extremely vulnerable. This fact is well-known to the regime’s leadership, which has inexplicably done little to protect its spies in the field.

I – as well as anonymous intelligence sources in Washington – identified Roly as a Directorate of Intelligence officer assigned to an element known as Department M-XV (Agent Communications). With this placement and access, he would have been able to identify strengths and weaknesses in the High Frequency broadcasts (i.e., shortwave or “ham” radio) that Cuba has transmitted to its spies every day for decades. Sadly, the three-man CIA ring in which Roly served was compromised in 1994. Unable to escape the island like his colleagues, he was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in jail in 1995.

Thus, it’s no coincidence that in 1996, the FBI was able to start reading parts of the HF broadcasts from Havana to its largest spy ring in America. Known as the Wasp Network, this group of 43+ spies stretched from the Florida Keys to New York City and as far west as Louisiana. The Bureau’s code-breaking, while slow and imperfect, proved good enough to arrest 10 Wasp members in September 1998. During these arrests, the FBI acquired physical copies of the encryption and decryption software used by Cuba. It also seized nearly 1,000 encrypted computer disks with roughly 15,000 pages of material.

In August 2001, two more Wasps were arrested and their encryption seized. A month later, Cuban master-spy Ana Belen Montes was arrested at the Defense Intelligence Agency. A covert search of her apartment months earlier had discovered her encryption/decryption software program as well as numerous messages she failed to destroy. The Montes investigation originally began in 1998 as an “unidentified subject” (UNSUB) case. However, sufficient evidence didn’t come together to pinpoint a specific person until September 2000.

In May 2002, another Wasp was arrested and his cipher program recovered. Finally, in June 2009, Cuban spies Kendall and Gwen Myers were arrested. Technology dinosaurs, the couple were part of a handful of Cuban spies who stayed with Morse Code for roughly 30 years, long after almost everyone else had switched to encrypted voice messages.

Rolando Sarraf Trujillo allowed Washington to first gain insights into Havana’s spy networks two decades ago. This knowledge was then amplified by the practical experience the Bureau gained reading Wasp Network communications for over two years. This was followed, in turn, by another huge breakthrough — the subsequent arrests of more than 16 Cuban spies (most of whom took plea agreements and cooperated with the US). In these arrests, the US likely acquired over a dozen working copies of Cuba’s cipher software. Now, with Rolando Sarraf Trujillo presumably being debriefed somewhere in the United States, the US government is adding additional depth to its understanding of Havana’s spy communications.

These events, taken together, should strike terror in the heart of every Cuban spy. If we assume NSA recorded every HF broadcast Cuba sent over the last several decades, then the possibility exists that (at least theoretically), with enough time, people, and funding, Washington could eventually break every message Havana sent.

Even with its communications security in a 20-year freefall, Cuba continues transmitting daily HF broadcasts. So for all those disposable Cuban spies serving secretly throughout the US, I’d recommend you start sleeping with one eye open. Washington is closer to finding you than you ever imagined.

Spy Wars: A Wilderness of Mirrors in U.S.-Cuba Swap 2

Jose Cohen, pictured at Little Havana’s Versailles Restaurant in 2000 (Al Diaz, Miami Herald Staff)

Jose Cohen, pictured at Little Havana’s Versailles Restaurant in 2000 (Al Diaz, Miami Herald Staff)

By Glenn Garvin, Juan O. Tamayo and Patricia Mazzei

ggarvin@MiamiHerald.com

More than two weeks have passed since the White House announced that it had traded three imprisoned Cuban intelligence officers — including one convicted of conspiracy to murder — for a super spy held in a Havana prison whom President Barack Obama labeled “one of the most important intelligence agents that the United States has ever had in Cuba.”

But since the president’s announcement, there’s been only silence. Nothing more has been said of the spy or his accomplishments. Of the people released from prison as part of the deal between Washington and Havana, the three Cuban spies and U.S. Agency for International Development contractor Alan Gross have all appeared on television to talk exultantly about their release.

Yet Washington’s master spy has remained anonymous and incommunicado. The only man who seems to fit the handful of clues the White House provided about the spy’s identity — former Cuban Interior Ministry Lt. Rolando Sarraff, jailed since his arrest in 1995 — has disappeared from the Havana prison where he was being held, and his family members say they’ve neither heard from him nor been told his whereabouts.

The Obama administration won’t confirm Sarraff’s name, much less why he could be out of reach.

But a man who claims he is a former member of Sarraff’s spy ring speculates there’s a good reason for Sarraff’s disappearance: that Sarraff was a fake, feeding the CIA false or trivial information as part of a Cuban scheme to disrupt U.S. intelligence.

“They were acting on behalf of Fidel Castro,” insists Bill Gaede, an Argentine engineer who says he carried information to the CIA from Sarraff and other Cuban intelligence officers. “They weren’t genuine. They were full of caca.”

What’s more, Gaede contends, the CIA and FBI suspected that Sarraff was a fake — a “dangle,” in intelligence parlance — right from the start, and never believed anything the ring of putative spies passed along. U.S. officials, he says, are calling him a valuable agent now only to make the Gross-for-Cuban-spies swap more palatable to U.S. conservatives. “It’s just public relations,” sniffs Gaede.

AT CUBA’S SERVICE

But Gaede’s claim is hotly disputed by another member of the spy ring — Jose Cohen, also a former lieutenant in the Cuban Interior Ministry, who defected from Cuba in 1994. “Bill Gaede is not a [credible] source. He was an enemy of the United States. He’s at Cuba’s service,” says Cohen, now living in southwest Miami-Dade, where he’s a highly successful Amway salesman.

“I think what Bill is looking for is publicity. … He’s mocking the press, he’s mocking the government.”

Article continues here: Spy Wars

 

 

Where is Rolando Sarraf Trujillo? 1

Family of Cuban who spied for CIA say they have not heard from him since Obama announced his release from jail two weeks ago

Family of Cuban who spied for CIA say they have not heard from him since Obama announced his release from jail two weeks ago

By Andrew Buncome, The Independent (UK)

Two weeks after it was announced he had been set free from a Cuban jail, the family of American spy Rolando Sarraff Trujillo are still waiting to hear from him.

Last month, as he announced an historic realignment of the US’s relationship with Cuba, President Barack Obama revealed that in addition to US contractor Alan Gross, Cuba was also releasing a second person as part of a prisoner exchange.

Mr Obama did not name Mr Sarraff, 51, a former Cuban intelligence officer, but reports identified him as a man who had been jailed in 1995 for providing intelligence to the CIA.

“This man – whose sacrifice has been known to only a few – provided America with the information that led us to arrest the network of Cuban agents that included the men transferred to Cuba today as well as other spies in the United States,” said the president. “He is now safely on our shores.”

But the New York Times said his family had not seen or heard from him since, triggering speculation that he is still being debriefed by US intelligence officials.

Mr Sarraff’s sister, Vilma, who lives in Spain, said her family grew alarmed on December 16 when her brother failed to make his daily phone call from prison to his parents, who still live in Cuba.

They then learned he had been released from Cuba’s Villa Marista prison, but since then, no American or Cuban official has notified the family of his whereabouts, she said. “We still don’t know where he is,” Ms Sarraff added.

Prior to his arrest in November 1995, Mr Sarraff worked in the cryptology section of Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence and was an expert on the codes used by Cuban spies in the United States to communicate with Havana. According to members of his family, he had also studied journalism at the University of Havana.

In exchange for the release of Mr Gross, a contractor with the US Agency for International Development, and Mr Sarraff, the US released three Cuban spies – the three remaining members of the so-called Cuban Fiv

These men had been arrested in Florida in the late 1990s while monitoring anti-Castro elements within the Cuban-American community. The arrest of the men, who always insisted they had not spied on the US government, was reportedly made possible by information passed to the US by Mr Sarraff.

Feature continues here:  Where is Roly?

NYT: Bergdahl Deal Weighed Heavily on US-Cuba Prisoner Swap Talks Reply

SGT. BOWE BERGDAHL RELEASED FROM CAPTIVITY IN AFGHANISTANvia Newsmax.com

The secret talks to free Alan Gross from Cuba were complicated by the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in return for five Taliban commanders, The New York Times reports.

Bergdahl, who had been held prisoner in Afghanistan for nearly five years, had just been released for the detainees at Guantanamo Bay when two White House officials, Benjamin Rhodes and Ricardo Zuniga, traveled to Ottawa, Canada, for negotiations with their Cuban counterparts. The Cubans were able to point to Bergdahl’s release as the precedent for the Obama administration to approve a Gross exchange deal for three Cuban agents held in the United States, a senior administration official told the Times.

The Cubans were in a hurry to have the prisoner swap approved by the White House because Gross’s mother Evelyn was dying of cancer, and they feared her death (she died June 18) would result in a then-distraught Gross killing himself and thus wiping out their main bargaining chip.

Gross was working for a subcontractor of U.S. Agency for International Development in 2009 when he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison. As a contractor, he was installing internet access for the island’s small Jewish community that bypassed Cuba’s restrictions.

But Bergdahl’s freedom added a new wrinkle to the talks with the Cubans to get Gross out, especially in light of allegations that the soldier had deserted his outpost in a remote area of Afghanistan, according to the newspaper.

Bergdahl’s release in exchange for the Taliban terrorists caused a firestorm in Congress, with Republicans in particular taking aim at President Barack Obama’s deal. And the uproar led the White House to demand that any arrangement to free Gross and the Cuban spies would have to be more than a simple prisoner swap.

“We made the point, ‘This shows you how controversial swaps are. This is something we are only willing to consider in the context of an appropriate exchange,’ ” a senior official told the Times. “The important thing was not to see the swap as the end, but the gateway to the policy changes.”

Eventually, the deal included the controversial resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries after 53 years of enmity, as well as the release of 53 Cuban political prisoners and an ex-Cuban intelligence officer, Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, who had worked for the CIA.

Article continues here:  Bergdahl

 

 

Former Cuban Spy & Conspiracy Theorist Bill Gaede Offers His Interpretation of US-Cuba Spy Swap 8

Bill Gaede

Bill Gaede

Rolando Sarraff Trujillo

By Bill Gaede

Spy vs. Spy

The recent spy swap between the United States and Cuba puts an end to 50 years of wrangling between the two countries. Washington finally decided to smoke the peace pipe with the Castros, kiss and make up. Conservatives and anti-Castro groups are outraged, and that’s an understatement. They see it as capitulation after over 50 years of cold war with the little squirt down south.

As a token of good faith, the U.S. released the remaining three Cuban Five prisoners and Cuba paid back in kind by releasing communications spy Alan Gross. The deal also included a mysterious Cuban national who President Obama credited with helping expose Cuban spies such as the Cuban Five, Ana Belen Montes, and Kendall and Gwen Myers.

However, unlike Alan Gross who took the spotlight and gave a press conference, this agent, who came on the same plane that landed at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington D.C., was whisked away secretly to an undisclosed location. His name was ‘leaked’ to the press by an anonymous intelligence official of the United States and the story of why the spy is so important and why he was included in the swap was read off a carefully worded text by Brian P. Hale, an expert with an extensive career in dealing with the media. Everyone from the NY Times to the LA Times quickly picked up on the story quoting these sources and each other. The entire frenzy is actually a study in how information is manipulated in the U.S. and how popular opinion is formed.

To help the Obama Administration make its case, Raul Castro, the president of Cuba also remained silent on the mysterious spy that Fidel’s Revolution coughed up. The U.S. and Cuba may not agree on much, but here they had to cooperate, and that was one of the things that obviously was negotiated between the two sides: the U.S. would handle the public relations aspect of the swap and Castro would remain silent. Cuba had nothing to lose by putting their three heroes on TV shaking hands with Raul Castro any more than President Obama had anything to lose by putting Alan Gross on camera. None of these agents had to be ‘debriefed’ or checked by the doctors before appearing in front of the cameras.

The only reason people strongly suspected that the mysterious spy might be Rolando Sarraff Trujillo (a.k.a. Roly) is that his family can’t find him. Cuban prison officials told them that their son had been transferred, but not to worry about him. He was in ‘good hands’. Certainly, Roly fit most of the description made by Obama at his press conference announcing reestablishment of relations with Cuba: a Cuban intelligence officer locked up for 20 years for providing cryptographic information that led to the capture of the aforementioned spies. So who else could it be? And if in addition the Obama Administration ‘carelessly leaks’ the name through ‘unidentified official’ sources, we have the makings of what appears to be ‘disinformation’.

Ramblings continue here:  Bill Gaede

Editor’s Note: Cuba recruited Guillermo “Bill” Gaede in the mid-1980s to steal information on computer software and provide it to case officers in Mexico.  Havana, in turn, passed the information to the USSR and East Germany until the end of the Cold War. Gaede, an Argentine communist and software engineer, worked for Advanced Micro Devices, Incorporated in Sunnyvale, California from 1979-1993.  He provided Cuba with AMD specs, designs, “Blue Books,” masks, wafers, and small measuring devices. He claimed his initial motivation was his belief in communism, but this motivation waned after he repeatedly traveled to Cuba and became disillusioned. He left AMD in 1993 because of mistaken fears that the company would soon detect his misconduct. Intel then hired him and greed became his motivator. He began committing espionage for China and Iran, which paid him handsomely.

On a personal note, analysis of Bill Gaede’s current and previous writings found numerous errors, based in part on his flawed interpretation of facts and a predisposition to see conspiracies everywhere.

U.S. Spy in Havana Exposed American Moles 4

An image provided by Cuba shows President Castro, right, Wednesday with members of the ‘Cuban Five’ who were released in a U.S. prisoner swap.  European Pressphoto Agency

An image provided by Cuba shows President Castro, right, Wednesday with members of the ‘Cuban Five’ who were released in a U.S. prisoner swap. European Pressphoto Agency

Intelligence Officer Whom Obama Singled Out for Prisoner Exchange Helped Convict Agents for Cuba in Washington

By Felicia Schwartz , The Wall Street Journal, felicia.schwartz@wsj.com

WASHINGTON—In announcing the prisoner exchange that set up a momentous shift in U.S.-Cuba relations, the Obama administration this week made an unusual disclosure, revealing the existence of a key intelligence agent, and detailing specific cases he helped to crack.

The U.S. informant, identified on Thursday as Rolando Sarraff Trujillo by those familiar with his role, had been convicted and imprisoned in Cuba for nearly 20 years for helping Washington. He was recently freed and flown to the U.S.

Undisclosed before this week was Mr. Sarraff’s secret role as an American operative in Cuba who provided critical information that prompted the 1998 arrests of a group of spies known as the “Cuban Five,” intelligence operatives sent to infiltrate U.S. groups opposed to the regime in Havana.

In remarks at the White House, Mr. Obama, without naming Mr. Sarraff, said that he was “one of the most important intelligence agents the United States has ever had in Cuba.”

In a separate set of prominent U.S. espionage cases, Mr. Sarraff also provided information leading to the detection and conviction between 2001 and 2009 of a group of American government officials for funneling information to Havana, the officials said.

The Americans included the Defense Intelligence Agency’s top Cuba analyst at the time, Ana Belén Montes, and former State Department official Walter Kendall Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn Myers, officials said.

All are still serving prison sentences.

In a speech Wednesday, Cuban President Raúl Castro didn’t name Mr. Sarraff but said he was “a spy of Cuban origin.” He has been widely identified as a former Cuban intelligence officer imprisoned in Cuba on espionage charges since 1995.

Mr. Sarraff was a cryptographer in Cuba’s intelligence service, said Chris Simmons, who headed a unit on Cuba for the Defense Intelligence Agency from 1997 to 2004.

Mr. Sarraff was arrested in Cuba in 1995, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison in 1996. He had provided information about the codes used by Cuban spies in the U.S. to communicate with Havana, Mr. Simmons said. Cuba typically used shortwave radio to communicate with agents in the U.S., he said.

U.S. officials used the information to decipher communications and identify spies, even long after he was arrested. “Once you have the insight, if you’ve got enough time, money and resources, you can go back and look at everyone,” Mr. Simmons said.

Feature continues here: Roly

 

Crucial Spy in Cuba Paid a Heavy Cold War Price 1

Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, in a photo released by his family.

Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, in a photo released by his family.

By Mark Mazzetti, Michael S. Schmidt and Frances Robles, New York Times

WASHINGTON — He was, in many ways, a perfect spy — a man so important to Cuba’s intelligence apparatus that the information he gave to the Central Intelligence Agency paid dividends long after Cuban authorities arrested him and threw him in prison for nearly two decades.

Rolando Sarraff Trujillo has now been released from prison and flown out of Cuba as part of the swap for three Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States that President Obama announced Wednesday.

Mr. Obama did not give Mr. Sarraff’s name, but several current and former American officials identified him and discussed some of the information he gave to the C.I.A. while burrowed deep inside Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence.

Mr. Sarraff’s story is a chapter in a spy vs. spy drama between theUnited States andCuba that played on long after the end of the Cold War and years afterCuba ceased to be a serious threat to theUnited States. The story — at this point — remains just a sketchy outline, with Mr. Sarraff hidden from public view and his work for the C.I.A. still classified.

The spy games between the two countries lost their urgency after the fall of the Soviet Union, but the spies have stuck to their roles for more than two decades: pilfering documents, breaking codes and enticing government officials to betray their countries. “There were a number of people in the Cuban government who were valuable to the U.S., just as there were a number of people in the U.S. government who were helpful to the Cubans,” said Jerry Komisar, who ran C.I.A. clandestine operations in Cuba during the 1990s.

With Wednesday’s exchange of imprisoned spies and the leaders of the United States and Cuba talking in a substantive way for the first time in more than 50 years, some people who were part of the spy games between the two countries now wonder just how much it was worth it.

In retrospect, Mr. Komisar said, there was little need for American intelligence services to devote so much attention to Cuba — a country with a decrepit military that he said posed no strategic threat to the United States since the Soviet Union pulled its missiles off the island in 1962.

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