Cor­byn’s dossier ‘points to Rus­sians’

Labour told to come clean on ‘NHS for sale’ doc­u­ments as report sug­gests Moscow link

The Daily Telegraph - - Front Page - By Anna Mikhailova, Gor­don Rayner and Harry Yorke

‘There are very se­ri­ous ques­tions that need to be an­swered by Jeremy Cor­byn and his team’

LABOUR has been told to “come clean” over whether it has helped to spread Rus­sian “dis­in­for­ma­tion” dur­ing the gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign.

Jeremy Cor­byn last week pub­lished a leaked dossier of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion which he used to at­tack the Con­ser­va­tives over the NHS, but re­fused to say how he got it.

Last night in­de­pen­dent re­searchers said the doc­u­ments car­ried “the spec­tre of for­eign in­flu­ence” as they had been pub­lished on­line us­ing meth­ods that di­rectly mir­ror an ear­lier Rus­sian dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign.

Se­nior Con­ser­va­tive MPS last night de­manded that Mr Cor­byn ex­plain how he ob­tained the doc­u­ments amid fears that Moscow is try­ing to in­flu­ence the elec­tion cam­paign. Graphika – a so­cial me­dia an­a­lyt­ics firm that pro­duced a report for the US Se­nate on Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 US elec­tion – worked with the At­lantic Coun­cil think tank to un­cover ev­i­dence show­ing that the way the doc­u­ments came into the pub­lic do­main mir­rored a dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign called Sec­ondary In­fek­tion, un­cov­ered in June.

Sec­ondary In­fek­tion used fab­ri­cated or altered doc­u­ments to try to spread false nar­ra­tives on­line, and stemmed from a network of so­cial me­dia ac­counts that Face­book said “orig­i­nated in Rus­sia”. Ben Nimmo, head of in­ves­ti­ga­tions at Graphika, said: “It’s on the same set of web­sites [as Sec­ondary In­fek­tion], it’s us­ing the same types of ac­counts and mak­ing the same lan­guage er­rors. It’s ei­ther the Rus­sian oper­a­tion or some­one try­ing hard to look like it.”

The Graphika report, seen by The Daily Tele­graph, states that: “The sim­i­lar­i­ties to Sec­ondary In­fek­tion are not enough to pro­vide con­clu­sive at­tri­bu­tion but are too close to be sim­ply a co­in­ci­dence. They could in­di­cate a re­turn of the ac­tors be­hind Sec­ondary In­fek­tion or a so­phis­ti­cated at­tempt by un­known ac­tors to mimic it.”

Labour last night re­fused to say how it had ob­tained the doc­u­ments, which orig­i­nally sur­faced on the on­line dis­cus­sion site Reddit, and would say only that “re­leas­ing these doc­u­ments was clearly in the pub­lic in­ter­est”. Iain Dun­can Smith, the former Con­ser­va­tive leader, said last night: “If they are us­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion to fab­ri­cate their NHS scare sto­ries, which are any­way not true, that speaks vol­umes about them.

“If there is any truth in this report, then there are very se­ri­ous ques­tions that need to be an­swered by Jeremy Cor­byn and his team.”

Tom Tu­gend­hat, the chair­man of the for­eign af­fairs com­mit­tee, said: “We know that for­eign gov­ern­ments have tried to in­ter­fere in elec­tions by leak­ing doc­u­ments at mo­ments that are con­ve­nient to them. Is this part of that pat­tern of be­hav­iour?”

A Labour spokesman said of the doc­u­ments: “Nei­ther the UK nor the US gov­ern­ment have de­nied their au­then­tic­ity. Given what they re­veal, it’s not sur­pris­ing that there are at­tempts to muddy the wa­ters to cover up what has been ex­posed.” Mr Cor­byn cited the doc­u­ments last night in a let­ter to Donald Trump, quot­ing from them as he de­manded the US leaves the NHS out of any fu­ture trade talks with the UK.

Lisa-maria Neud­ert, a re­searcher at Ox­ford Univer­sity’s Pro­ject on Com­pu­ta­tional Pro­pa­ganda, said that if Rus­sia was be­hind the leak, its aim may not have been to help any par­tic­u­lar side in the elec­tion. She said: “We know from the Rus­sian play­book that of­ten it is not for or against any­thing, it’s about sow­ing con­fu­sion, and de­stroy­ing the field of po­lit­i­cal trust.”

A Reddit spokesman said: “The in­tegrity of our site is of para­mount im­por­tance and we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing these find­ings.”

Gra­ham Brookie, di­rec­tor of the At­lantic Coun­cil’s Dig­i­tal Foren­sic Re­search Lab, said: “Who­ever did this ... was ab­so­lutely try­ing to keep it a se­cret. It car­ries the spec­tre of for­eign in­flu­ence.”

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