A congressional aide who worked for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., as an IT specialist until he was arrested on fraud charges as he attempted to flee the country, is believed to have planted a laptop computer for police to find as part of an investigation into cybersecurity and theft.
Imran Awan, along with three family members and a friend, had access to sensitive congressional information while working on Capitol Hill where they made over $4 million by providing IT services to Democratic politicians since 2010.
Many have expressed concern over how Wasserman Schultz kept Awan on as an IT staffer even after a fraud investigation into Awan and his wife led other House Democrats to cut ties with him and bar him from accessing the House computer system.
New updates in the case include details from the police report, the acquisition of a laptop that Wasserman Schultz demanded Capitol Police return to her instead of handing over to prosecutors as evidence, and comments from Awan's attorney.
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Awan's Laptop Found in Office Building Under Mysterious Circumstances
A laptop that Wasserman Schultz did not want authorities to analyze was mysteriously left in a small room in the Rayburn House Office Building.
Two months after Awan was fired by most congressional members, a laptop was found in the Rayburn building after midnight on April 6, along with other pieces of evidence such as copies of Awan's driver license, congressional ID badge, a Pakistani ID card, and "letters to the U.S. attorney that ensured it would be treated as evidence instead of simply returned as a missing laptop," The Daily Caller reported last week.
"The laptop had the username 'RepDWS,' even though the Florida Democrat and former Democratic National Committee chairman previously said it was Awan's computer and that she had never even seen it," The Daily Caller reports.
"The laptop was found on the second floor of the Rayburn building — a place Awan would have had no reason to go because Wasserman Schultz's office is in the Longworth building and the other members who employed him had fired him."
Awan Still Has an Active Congressional Email Account
The Daily Caller News Foundation's Investigative Group reported on Aug. 29 that Awan still had an active congressional email account, even though it had been months since he lost access to the House computer system.
"Court documents and emails obtained by TheDCNF show Awan used the address firstname.lastname@example.org in addition to his standard email@example.com account," The Daily Caller reported.
"Authorities apparently did not realize Awan has a second account that is not linked to his identity. While his main email address began rejecting mail after it was shut down, the 123 address was still accepting mail."
Witness Denounces Claim Awan Was Being Protected From Bigotry
Wasserman Schultz was the last representative to fire Awan and only did so after he was arrested while trying to flee the country.
In a statement released in July, Wasserman Schultz explained that she did not fire Awan until after he was arrested because up until then, her office did not believe he had done anything illegal.
"After details of the investigation were reviewed with us, my office was provided no evidence to indicate that laws had been broken, which over time, raised troubling concerns about due process, fair treatment and potential ethnic and religious profiling," Wasserman Schultz said, as reported by the Miami Herald.
Andre Taggart, a U.S. Marine who rented a home owned by Awan in Virginia, is a witness in the investigation, and told The Daily Caller that he felt Wasserman Schultz was "crying wolf" when it came to bigotry concerns.
"I just want to get these [guys] locked up and exposed and now," Taggart said. "The people who facilitated them should also be locked up, as far as I'm concerned."
Taggart found a cache hard drives and electronics left behind by Imran in the garage of the house that he's renting and alerted the FBI.
Awan's Wife Has Agreed to Return to the US
Although Awan was arrested by the FBI at Dulles International Airport in July as he tried to board a plane to Pakistan, his wife, Hina Alvi, had already successfully fled the United States.
The Washington Examiner reported last week that Alvi, who also had access to sensitive congressional content, has struck a deal with prosecutors and will appear at an arraignment.
"A document filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia indicates that federal prosecutors have struck a deal with Alvi that would allow her to return to the U.S., but would also require her to surrender her passport and afterwards not book any international travel," noted the Examiner.
"The deal only surrounds how Alvi will turn herself in, and is structured so that she can avoid being arrested in front of her children when she returns to the U.S. [from Pakistan] 'during the last week of September 2017.'"
Imran and Alvi were indicted on charges of "conspiracy to obtain home equity lines of credit from the Congressional Federal Credit Union by giving false information about two properties — and then sending the proceeds to individuals in Pakistan," Fox News reported.
Awan's Attorney Claims Political Agenda Behind Media Attention
Chris Gowen, Awan's attorney, told The Washington Examiner in an interview published Monday that he believes a political agenda is driving the case against his client.
"It's confusing to us why this case is even being prosecuted," Gowen said. "It's not the type of case that would usually be prosecuted at the U.S. attorney level because there's been no loss [to the loan originators]."
Gowen blamed the focus on his client's case on "made up stories by right-wing reporters and bloggers," adding that it's "just ludicrous to suggest that they'd have any access to classified information."