Russian “actors” sought to interfere in last year’s General Election in Britain by pushing on the internet leaked reports on UK-US trade talks, the Foreign Office said today.
The bombshell accusation was made this afternoon by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
A criminal investigation has been launched into the acquisition of the documents.
They are said to have been obtained illicitly.
Mr Raab told the Commons in a written statement: “On the basis of extensive analysis, the Government has concluded that it is almost certain that Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 General Election through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked Government documents.
“Sensitive Government documents relating to the UK-US Free Trade Agreement were illicitly acquired before the 2019 General Election and disseminated online via the social media platform Reddit.
“When these gained no traction, further attempts were made to promote the illicitly acquired material online in the run up to the General Election.”
The Cabinet minister said there was no evidence of a “broad spectrum Russian campaign” against the General Election and nor did he say the Russian state was involved.
But he added: “Any attempt to interfere in our democratic processes is completely unacceptable. It is, and will always be, an absolute priority to protect our democracy and elections.
“There is an ongoing criminal investigation and it would be inappropriate for us to say anything further at this point.
“The Government reserves the right to respond with appropriate measures in the future.”