As the United States increasingly goes after some of the Kremlin’s business tentacles, the latest person arrested for violating U.S. sanctions against Russia is less notable for his ties to Vladimir Putin than his old ties to Sean Hannity—he is a former Fox News producer who left to launch a Russian propaganda network.
The Department of Justice on Thursday revealed that Jack Hanick was quietly arrested in London on Feb. 3 for dodging U.S. sanctions by helping a sanctioned Russian oligarch, Konstantin Malofeyev, start his right-wing Tsargrad TV.
The DOJ simultaneously unsealed a grand jury indictment against him, accusing Hanick of knowingly engaging in business dealings with Malofeyev, who had been formally sanctioned by the U.S. government for his role in financing Russia-backed soldiers in eastern Ukraine who have violently tried to break off from the democratic country since 2014.
The indictment also accuses Hanick of lying to FBI agents about his travels to Greece and Bulgaria to expand the TV network in 2015 and 2016, when he was interviewed by American investigators last year in New York City.
Federal agents assert that many of the damning details about Hanick’s Kremlin adventures were laid out in an unpublished memoir he kept in his email account, which was searched by the feds with a court-approved search warrant.
Malofeyev was sanctioned in December 2014 by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for financing separatists in the Donbas region in southeastern Ukraine.
Russia-aligned fighters there operated with the not-so-secret help of that country’s military and used that government’s weapons when they shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers.
Malofeyev (also spelled in the West as Malofeev) started an Orthodox Christian network called Tsargrad TV. In 2020, he launched a similarly named right-wing political group in Russia with an imperialist bent that would—much like the National Rifle Association does in the United States—pressure politicians to toe the conservative line.
According to The Warsaw Institute, a Polish-based geopolitical think tank, “Tsargrad” would test political candidates’ adherence to “traditional family, religious, and cultural values of the Russian people.”
The Financial Times in 2015 analyzed how Malofeyev launched his “conservative yet modern spin on global news” in an attempt to mimic the rise of Fox News. Then, in 2018, the online news site Salon called out Hanick for joining the Russian operation, noting that he had previously served as Hannity’s director at Fox News.
Hanick got his start at Fox News when it first launched in 1996. Fifteen years later, in 2011, he left. Three years later, he joined forces with Malofeyev’s Russian propaganda operation. The Justice Department now wants to extradite him from the United Kingdom to New York City.
Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, issued a statement noting that sanctions “prohibit United States citizens from working for or doing business with Malofeyev but as alleged, Hanick violated those sanctions by working directly for Malofeyev on multiple television projects over the course of several years.”
Williams noted the indictment underscores his office’s “commitment to the enforcement of laws intended to hamstring those who would use their wealth to undermine fundamental democratic processes. This Office will continue to be a leader in the Justice Department’s work to hold accountable actors who would support flagrant and unjustified acts of war.”