The Russian security service has compromised the private conversations of high-profile politicians and civil servants as it tried to interfere in UK political processes, Foreign Office minister Leo Docherty has said.
The Foreign Office has since summoned the Russian ambassador and two members of the “Star Blizzard” group, which is believed to be controlled by the Centre 18 unit of the FSB, including one understood to be an intelligence officer in the Russian security service, have been sanctioned.
MPs, Lords, civil servants, journalists and others have been targeted in attempts to “meddle in British politics”, Mr Docherty told MPs.
The group had “selectively leaked and amplified information” since 2015 using a technique known as “spear-phishing” to steal information from a “significant” number of parliamentarians from multiple political parties.
An official told Sky News: “Russia is targeting the UK’s democratic process.”
The group “acquires information for the Russian state. It is a group that supports FSB Centre 18.
“This information is used to undermine the West in various ways,” they said. “This group has acquired a vast amount of data.
“It is very targeted – the number [of known hacks] is probably in the hundreds not thousands.
“We are coming towards an election year. We want to get this [hack and leak threat] more into the bloodstream – so people are more aware.”
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