Washington — A centrepiece of US special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation — his indictment of 16 individuals and companies in Russia for interfering in the 2016 election — now threatens to backfire in a court-ordered release of US intelligence-gathering secrets. This is because a federal judge has to decide whether the US justice department must turn over key evidence to one of the indicted Russian companies, and that could let the Russians learn how the US government detected their activities in the first place. The US is in this predicament because the Russian company unexpectedly hired Washington lawyers to fight the case. Under US law, prosecutors are obligated to turn over their evidence to the defendants — and the company involved is run by a man so close to the Kremlin that his nickname is Putin’s Chef. So far, US district judge Dabney Friedrich in Washington has restricted the release of the documents. But some of those shared with the defendants have already ...

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