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US agents sought access to Telegram: Founder

Photo shows a logo of the FBI.

The founder of the popular messaging application Telegram says US authorities sought on multiple occasions to gain access to the platform in an apparent bid to spy on its users.

Pavel Durov said in an interview with US journalist Tucker Carlson that was released on Wednesday that officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had approached him or his employees several times.

“We got too much attention from the FBI, the security agencies, wherever we came,” Durov said in the interview as he insisted that the “alarming” experience was one of the main reasons he refused to set up his company in the US.

“Whenever I would go to the US, I would have two FBI agents greeting me at the airport, asking questions. One time, I was having breakfast at 9 am and the FBI showed up at the house that I was renting,” he said, adding “My understanding is that they wanted to establish a relationship to control Telegram better.”

Russian-born Durov, who left his country in 2014 to be able to expand his company, said US agents had even attempted to hire one of his employees to use the person for their purposes.

“There was a secret attempt to hire my engineer behind my back by cybersecurity officers,” he said, adding, “They were trying to persuade him to use certain open-source tools that he would then integrate into Telegram’s code that, in my understanding, would serve as backdoors.”

Telegram is now based in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Durov said in the interview with Carlson that the social media platform will likely cross one billion active monthly users within a year, up from a current figure of 900 million users.

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