Anonymous blows lid off huge psyop in Europe and it's funded by UK & US
Update: Following publication, a major Anonymous-linked account has denied the hacking group was behind the leak and the Integrity Initiative has confirmed receiving money from the British government.
The main objective is "to provide a coordinated Western response to Russian disinformation and other elements of hybrid warfare." The Institute for Statecraft is affiliated with the NATO HQ Public Diplomacy Division and the Home Office-funded 'Prevent' program, so objectivity is, of course, at the forefront of their work.Also on rt.com Dirty little secret: ‘Think tanks’ are among top culprits in media disinformation crisis
Operating on a budget of £1.9 million (US$2.4 million), the secretive Integrity Initiative consists of "clusters" of local politicians, journalists, military personnel, scientists and academics. The team is dedicated to searching for and publishing "evidence" of Russian interference in European affairs, while themselves influencing leadership behind the scenes, the documents claim.
The UK establishment appears to be conducting the very activities of which it and its allies have long-accused the Kremlin, with little or no corroborating evidence. The program also aims to "change attitudes in Russia itself" as well as influencing Russian speakers in the EU and North America, one of the leaked documents states.
At present, the vast network allegedly has clusters for Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Norway, Serbia, and Montenegro... but there's more!
According to the Anonymous leak, major plans to expand the sphere of influence throughout eastern Europe, the US, and Canada, as well as the MENA region, are allegedly underway.
The clusters' work is apparently done under absolute secrecy via concealed contacts embedded throughout British embassies, the leak claims, some of which are listed as part of the documentation.
In the documents, the Integrity Initiative states that sharing analysis of alleged "Russian attacks" with other countries in the network at a governmental level would likely increase international "collaboration and Alliance cohesion."
The initiative claims it is not a government body, of course, but does work with unnamed British "government agencies." The initiative has received £168,000 in funding from HQ NATO Public Diplomacy and £250,000 from the US State Department, the documents allege.
Some of its purported members include British MPs and high-profile "independent" journalists with a penchant for anti-Russian sentiment in their collective online oeuvre, as showcased by a brief glance at their Twitter feeds.
Edward Lucas, journalist for the Times.
Why did nobody in British govt — Cabbinet Office, Home Office, Foreign Office, Justice Ministry — notice upcoming Russian coup at @INTERPOL_HQ ? @Number10press claims we (now) have seamless whole of govt approach to Russia and other hostile states— Edward Lucas (@edwardlucas) November 20, 2018
Bob Seely, MP.
Please see my latest on #Russia, sanctions and how oligarch cash funds Russia's political war against the #West. My article accompanies hard-hitting @CommonsForeign report. Re #sanctions, we need to say what we mean and mean what we say.https://t.co/7fodaTKxRu— Bob Seely MP (@IoWBobSeely) May 21, 2018
In one particular example given as a case study of the group's activities, the docs reveal how effective the strategy could be. According to the documents, the 'Moncloa Campaign' was carried out by the group's Spanish cluster to prevent the appointment of Colonel Pedro Banos as director of Spain's Department of Homeland Security. And all it took was just a seven-and-a-half hour campaign, kicked off by several high-profile Spanish journalists affiliated with the secretive group.
Hilo: El Gobierno se dispone a nombrar al Coronel Baños, conocido por sus posiciones prorrusas y pro-Putin en los conflictos de Siria y Ucrania, Director del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DSN), un organismo clave situado en La Moncloa.— Nacho Torreblanca (@jitorreblanca) June 7, 2018
"The [Spanish] government is preparing to appoint Colonel Banos, known for his pro-Russian and pro-Putin positions in the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts, as Director of the Department of Homeland Security, a key body located at the Moncloa," Nacho Torreblanca began in an extensive Twitter thread.
Este nombramiento revela ya sin duda que Sánchez está haciendo un Gobierno de famoseo. El señor Baños es a la geoestretegia lo que un homeópata a la medicina. Eso sí, sale mucho en la tele. Lástima asignar cargos tan frívolamente en puestos tan vitales. https://t.co/irXeQ4dOH0— Miguel Ángel Quintana Paz (@quintanapaz) June 7, 2018
Others joined in. Among them – according to the leaks – academic Miguel Ángel Quintana Paz, who wrote that "Mr. Banos is to geopolitics as a homeopath is to medicine." Appointing such a figure would be "a shame."
Spanish media, such as El Pais, then reported on these murmurings. Notably, members of the UK team, like MP Bob Seely, are also listed in the Banos op document. The latter lost out to Miguel Angel Ballesteros.
The case is being highlighted as one of the major examples, but similar operations can be carried out in numerous other EU states, Anonymous warns in their release.
RT has contacted the British Foreign Office and Statecraft, and is awaiting response. Commenting on the matter to RIA Novosti, a Foreign Office representative said that all the data about the project is available in open sources and they would appreciate it if people found out more about it.
Meanwhile, Moscow is not surprised by these activities, a diplomatic source told RT. The Foreign Ministry is studying and analyzing the leaked documents and will keep track of the issue, the source said.
RT has also reached out to some of the people named in the clusters. In a statement to the channel, Edward Lucas said that the documents prove nothing and he was not paid by the Institute for Statecraft, but he supports their work.
“I have not been paid by the Institute. But I applaud their work in dealing with the Chekist regime’s pernicious information and influence operations,” the journalist wrote. He added that it is better to investigate what he called “real Russophobia,” accusing the Russian government of “looting” the nation, “bullying neighboring countries and murdering its critics.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Blank, Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, called the leak “utter nonsense.”
Sharing one’s own point of view is never a problem, unless it is a hidden campaign to manipulate public opinion, security analyst Charles Shoebridge said. He argues that the whole “cover operation” makes people believe they are seeing “genuine popular feelings,” but all of this is “orchestrated by generous funding and important figures linked to, in this case, the UK government.”
“What we’ve got here is a hidden influence. Actually, these are not genuine opinions, or if they are genuine opinions, they are being pushed and given prominence because they are backed including by funding from organizations such as the UK government,” Shoebridge told RT.
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