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Integrity Initiative wipes website pending probe into ‘theft’ of disturbing leaked data

Integrity Initiative wipes website pending probe into ‘theft’ of disturbing leaked data
The British state-funded Integrity Initiative, exposed last year for conducting Europe-wide political influence campaigns in leaked files, has removed all of its website content “pending an investigation” into the data “theft.”

A group claiming association with the loose hacktivist collective Anonymous has been dumping private Integrity Initiative documents online in various batches since November. The leaks revealed that the Scotland-based, government-funded organization, which bills itself as a non-partisan disinformation-busting charity, was actually using “clusters” of journalists, politicians, and academics to carry out secret anti-Russia campaigns, interfere in domestic politics across Europe and smear anyone who questioned its narratives.

In a surprise move on Monday, the Integrity Initiative abruptly announced on Twitter that it had “temporarily removed” all content from its site “pending an investigation into the theft of data” from the Institute of Statecraft, the II’s London-based parent operation.

In a statement posted on its now mostly bare website, the II claimed the leaks were "part of a campaign to undermine the work" of the Initiative which it said involved “researching, publicising and countering the threat” Europe faces in the in the form of “disinformation” and “hybrid warfare” – ironically, exactly what the shady organization itself was accused of engaging in with its hefty government paycheck.

It remains an open question if, in an effort to save face, the group would accuse Russia of being behind the leaks and even of doctoring the documents. While the statement admitted that some of the leaks were “genuine,” it claimed others were “falsified” – but did not provide any evidence to back up that claim. It is, however, apparent that Russia has been the Initiative’s main target during the course of its questionable work.

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The website will be “relaunched shortly” and “analysis” of the hack and its “significance” will be published soon, the statement said. It doesn’t look as though many will be awaiting that analysis with bated breath, however.

Perhaps discouraging for the Integrity Initiative, few seemed upset to see their content disappear. Most responses to the announcement tweet are of the trolling variety, accusing the organization of simply being caught in the act and trying to clean house.

After the II leaks, Scottish newspaper the Daily Record wrote that the revelations – including that the government-funded organization had also conducted a domestic smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn – was “one of the biggest political scandals of the year.”

The scandal received scant coverage by mainstream British media, however. Labour MP Chris Williamson told RT earlier this month that the lack of interest could have something to do with the fact that high profile journalists themselves were seemingly involved in the shady operation.

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