Jeremy Corbyn's Leaked Documents Tied to Russian Election Meddling Group, Probe Finds
Docs linked to Russia's 'Secondary Infektion' online election misinformation campaign
The UK's left-wing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn last week cited a "leak" that, he claims, exposes Boris Johnson's Conservative Party, yet a probe has found the "leaked documents" are linked to a Russian group that spreads misinformation online to interfere in foreign elections.
Corbyn claims the "classified documents" detail trade talks between US and UK officials.
The socialist opposition leader insists the files are "evidence" of what he said were "secret talks" to sell off the British National Health Service (NHS).
"The uncensored documents leave Boris Johnson's denials in absolute tatters," Mr. Corbyn declared during a news conference last week.
PM Johnson dismissed the claims as "total nonsense," with his party adding that Corbyn was misrepresenting the documents and quoted sections out of context.
Now, according to an investigation by internet discussion site Reddit - where the documents first emerged - the files are linked to Russia's "Secondary Infektion" online election meddling campaign.
The documents first appeared in a post on Reddit in October and the site has now said it believes it is "part of a campaign that has been reported as originating from Russia."
Reddit's investigators also identified more accounts that had used "vote manipulation" to promote the original post.
Reddit said the accounts "have the same shared pattern" as a Russian campaign found on Facebook earlier this year, dubbed "Secondary Infektion."
The site has banned one subreddit and 61 accounts "under our policies against vote manipulation and misuse of the platform."
Sky News's Rowland Manthorpe says it is not known if the leaked documents were fabricated, hacked or obtained by the Russian group - only that they were trying to "amplify" their visibility.
Manthorpe added: "Labour needs to take this seriously - because, however tenuously, this is increasingly looking like foreign interference in the UK election."
The Facebook campaign this Reddit effort resembles was called Sekondary Infektion after the original Infektion, a Russian disinformation campaign from the 1980s— Rowland Manthorpe (@rowlsmanthorpe) December 6, 2019
It was devoted to planting the idea the US invented HIV/AIDS as part of a biological weapons research project
Earlier this week, experts - including researchers from Oxford and Cardiff universities - also suggested the Reddit leak was linked to the Russian Secondary Infektion campaign.
A government spokesperson said: "Online platforms should take responsibility for content posted on them, and we welcome the action Reddit have taken today.
"The UK government was already looking into the matter, with support from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).
"We do not comment on leaks, and it would be inappropriate to comment further."
Labour has again refused to discuss where it obtained the documents but maintains they reveal a damaging picture of Mr. Johnson's intentions.
"These documents reveal the plot against our NHS," said a spokesman.
"And of course neither the UK nor the US government have denied their authenticity.
"Our releasing them to journalists was clearly in the public interest."