Reddit post alleges Russian links to US-UK trade deal

On Friday, a document was leaked revealing how the UK’s NHS (National Health Scheme) has been put on safety for the controversial UK-US trade deal. The classified documents’ leak online was tied to a Russian disinformation campaign. The leaked document was originally posted in social media website, Reddit, in October by a user named “gregoratior”. The social media site suspected the involvement of Russian operatives behind the leak of sensitive information. It hinted at Russian meddling in the UK’s upcoming election.

With respect to the leak, Reddit released a statement, saying, “We were recently made aware of a post on Reddit that included leaked documents from the UK. We investigated this account and the accounts connected to it, and today we believe this was part of a campaign that has been reported as originating from Russia.

Earlier this year Facebook discovered a Russian campaign on its platform, which was further analyzed by the Atlantic Council and dubbed ’Secondary Infektion’. Suspect accounts on Reddit were recently reported to us, along with indicators from law enforcement, and we were able to confirm that they did indeed show a pattern of coordination. We were then able to use these accounts to identify additional suspect accounts that were part of the campaign on Reddit. This group provides us with important attribution for the recent posting of the leaked UK documents, as well as insights into how adversaries are adapting their tactics.”

The most interesting aspect of the leak is how it came out just weeks before the UK elections, which resembled the manner in which Moscow-based ‘Secondary Infektion’ usually carried out its operations.

Following the leak, Reddit carried out an investigation and banned 1 subreddit and 61 accounts, which tried to promote the document. It did so under its policies to prevent vote manipulation and misuse of its platform.

The team behind the US-UK trade deal leak did not only limit itself to Reddit but dispersed the information by emailing campaign groups and political activists.

Britain’s opposition Labour Party got hold of the document on Nov. 27 and its leader Jeremy Corbyn unveiled the 451-page dossier, during a press conference on Wednesday. A Labour Party Spokesperson, who declined o reveal how the party got the document, said, “These documents reveal the plot against our NHS. And of course, neither the UK nor the U.S. government has denied their authenticity. Our releasing them to journalists was clearly in the public interest.”

The British government said in a statement it was “already looking into the matter” with support from the National Cyber Security Center, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency.

“Online platforms should take responsibility for content posted on them, and we welcome the action Reddit has taken today,” it said.

It is believed that the key objective of the leak was to impact the ongoing UK general election campaign. The country is going for elections next week on December 12. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for re-election to break Brexit impasse.

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