AP

Reddit bans accounts, suspects possible UK vote interference

Dec 7, 2019, 11:15 AM | Updated: 11:15 am
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, left, and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, dur...
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, left, and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during a head to head live Election Debate at the BBC TV studios in Maidstone, England, Friday Dec. 6, 2019. Britain's Brexit is one of the main issues for political parties and for voters, as the UK prepares for a General Election on Dec. 12. The debate is moderated by TV presenter Nick Robinson, right. (Photo credit: Jeff Overs/BBC via AP)
(Photo credit: Jeff Overs/BBC via AP)

LONDON (AP) — The prospect of Russian interference in Britain’s election flared anew Saturday after the social media platform Reddit concluded that people from Russia leaked confidential British government documents on Brexit trade talks just days before the general U.K. vote.

Reddit said in a statement that it has banned 61 accounts suspected of violating policies against vote manipulation. It said the suspect accounts shared the same pattern of activity as a Russian interference operation dubbed “Secondary Infektion” that was uncovered earlier this year.

Reddit investigated the leak after the documents became public during the campaign for Thursday’s election, which will determine the country’s future relationship with the European Union. All 650 seats in the House of Commons are up for grabs.

Reddit said it believed the documents were leaked as “part of a campaign that has been reported as originating from Russia.”

“We were able to confirm that they did indeed show a pattern of coordination,” Reddit said.

The British government has not challenged the authenticity of the documents.

Britain’s main opposition party has argued the documents prove that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is seeking a deal with the United States after Brexit that would drive up the cost of drugs and imperil the state-funded National Health Service. The issue has been a central election theme, largely because the country deeply cherishes the health service, which has suffered under years of austerity.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the 451 pages of documents, which covered six rounds of preliminary talks between U.S. and U.K. negotiators, proved that Johnson was planning to put the NHS “up for sale” in trade talks. Johnson — who was not prime minister for most of the two-year period when the trade talks took place — has rejected Corbyn’s analysis.

Britain is currently scheduled to leave the 28-nation EU on Jan. 31.

When asked about Reddit’s actions while on a campaign stop in Wales, Corbyn suggested the news was an “advanced stage of rather belated conspiracy theories by the prime minister.”

“When we released the documents, at no stage did the prime minister or anybody deny that those documents were real, deny the arguments that we put forward. And if there has been no discussion with the USA about access to our health markets, if all that is wrong, how come after a week they still haven’t said that?” he said.

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan told the BBC that the government is “looking for and monitoring” anything that might suggest interference in the British election.

“From what was being put on that (Reddit) website, those who seem to know about these things say that it seems to have all the hallmarks of some form of interference,” Morgan said. “And if that is the case, that obviously is extremely serious.”

The spectre that Russia has meddled in Britain’s electoral process has been raised before. Critics are also questioning the British government’s failure to release a Parliament intelligence committee report on previous Russian interference in the country’s politics. They say it should have been made public before Thursday’s vote.

The Times of London reported, without saying how it got the information, that the intelligence report concluded that Russian interference may have affected the 2016 referendum on Britain’s departure from the EU, though the impact is “unquantifiable.”

The committee said British intelligence services failed to devote enough resources to countering the threat and highlighted the impact of articles posted by Russian news sites that were widely disseminated on social media, the newspaper reported.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson expressed concern about the new Russian interference claims.

“All of us should be concerned if a foreign country is trying to interfere in our democracy,” she said.

“And that is why it is so appalling that the prime minister is sitting on a report that was written weeks before the general election, that the Security Committee say should be published, into interference in U.K. democracy by foreign countries like Russia.”
___

AP’s full coverage of Brexit and British politics

 

Today’s Top Stories

AP

Damage from Hurricane Ian...
ADRIANA GOMEZ-LICON Associated Press

Ian returns to hurricane status, meanwhile floods trap many in Florida

Hours after weakening to a tropical depression while crossing the Florida peninsula, Ian regained hurricane strength Thursday evening after emerging over the Atlantic Ocean.
2 days ago
An uprooted tree, toppled by strong winds from the outer bands of Hurricane Ian, rests in a parking...
CURT ANDERSON Associated Press

Ian makes landfall in southwest Florida as Category 4 storm

About 2.5 million people had been ordered to evacuate the area before the storm hit the coast on Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph (241 kph).
3 days ago
The White House to ask for less money to fund border wall...
ACACIA CORONADO and GISELA SALOMON Associated Press

Increase in Venezuelan migration is felt across US

Last month, Venezuelans surpassed Guatemalans and Hondurans to become the second-largest nationality stopped at the U.S. border after Mexicans.
5 days ago
In Iran, protests have led to violent clashes between citizens and security forces. Protesters pict...
The Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

The scope of Iran's ongoing unrest, the worst in several years, still remains unclear as protesters in more than a dozen cities.
8 days ago
U.S. Capitol pictured. The House just voted on an election law...
MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press

House passes election law overhaul in response to Jan. 6

The bill, which is similar to bipartisan legislation moving through the Senate, would overhaul an arcane 1800s-era statute known as the Electoral Count Act
9 days ago
Trump pictured. A lawsuit against Trump was just filed in new york...
Associated Press

NY attorney general sues Donald Trump and his company

Attorney General Letitia James' lawsuit is the culmination of the Democrat's three-year civil investigation of Trump and the Trump Organization.
10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Reddit bans accounts, suspects possible UK vote interference