Russians are suspected of hacking into a former British trade minister’s e-mail and leaking classified U.S.-U.K. trade documents ahead of Britain’s 2019 elections, Reuters reported on August 3.
Reuters said the hack of Liam Fox’s account — which has not been previously reported — and subsequent leak of the documents is one of the most direct examples of suspected Russian attempts to meddle in British politics.
The hackers accessed Fox’s account multiple times between July 12 and October 21 last year, Reuters said, citing two unidentified British sources with direct knowledge of the matter. The attack resembled a state-backed operation, the sources said.
The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. A British government spokeswoman declined to comment because there is an ongoing criminal investigation.
The hackers stole six tranches of documents detailing British trade negotiations with the United States that were later disseminated online.
Britain’s opposition Labour Party used the leaked documents to attack the ruling party ahead of the 2019 elections.
The Labour Party said the documents showed a government plot to sell the National Health Service to the United States, an accusation Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly denied.
A British parliamentary report released last month found that Moscow had tried to influence a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014, and that Britain’s government had failed to adequately investigate possible Russian attempts to sway the 2016 vote on Brexit.
Fox, who is still a member of parliament, stood down as trade minister on July 24 last year in a cabinet reshuffle.