NEW: It Was the Dutch, Not a Dossier That Prompted FBI Russia Probe

So it was Dutch spies, spying on Russian hackers, leading to a U.S. Russia probe.

Yup. That would be the line leading up to the investigation that has commanded headlines for almost the past 2 years.

According to Dutch media, Dutch intelligence followed Russian hackers, monitoring their moves, for several years, right up to the point where they hacked into the DNC’s emails.

 The Volkskrant newspaper is reporting that officials with the Netherland’s AIVD, the General Intelligence and Security Service, penetrated networks used by Russian hackers in 2014 and observed them subsequently breaking into networks used by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Further, Dutch TV networks are giving the details of the years-long tracking of Russian hackers, and how in depth their research into the activities of those Russian hacker groups went.

The Dutch intelligence officials made their way into networks used by cyber espionage group Cozy Bear, also known as APT 29, which has been linked by experts to Russian intelligence, possibly Moscow’s Federal Security Service.

The Dutch were able to spy on the hackers for up to two and a half years, determining the location of their operations and also capturing the hackers on film, according to the reports.

On film?

Technical evidence gathered by AVID and the Netherland’s MIVD (Military Intelligence and Security Service) was passed on to the FBI, and what is being described as “crucial” evidence was used as a basis for the Russia probe, which started in July 2016.

The U.S. intelligence agency overwhelmingly agrees that the Russian government orchestrated the hacking of DNC emails, in an attempt to influence the direction of the 2016 election. Recently gathered information from social media sources show that the meddling goes much deeper, as Russian “bot farms” connected to the Russian government have created Facebook pages and events, meant to stir conflict among the U.S. population. Twitter has uncovered thousands of fake accounts, many pushing Donald Trump during the election season.

The Russian government, predictably, denies any involvement.