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Claims About Alleged GRU Cyberattack on UK-Based TV Inconsistent - Embassy

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LONDON (Sputnik) - The Russian Embassy in London pointed Saturday to the contradictions in the article released by the Financial Times newspaper, which claimed that the Russian military intelligence service GRU had allegedly conducted a cyberattack on the UK-based Islam Channel TV broadcaster in 2015.

On Friday, the Financial Times reported, citing non-designated UK officials, that the GRU officers allegedly hacked the computer network of the UK-based TV station in 2015. The news outlet has not provided any evidence, proving the claims. The newspaper has not specified why Russia would "attack" the broadcaster either. In addition, all the sources of information mentioned in the article were anonymous.

"What is interesting about the article is that it claims that hackers, supposedly, had complete control over the TV channel's infrastructure during the intrusion. Then [the article] claims that the [UK] Home Office staff called [the broadcaster] and informed it of the cyberattack and says that 'we [the TV station's staff] had not noticed any irregularities in the work of the channel until this call.' The information in this article does not withstand the slightest criticism, it seems it was written in a hurry, and the logical pattern was disrupted. [The article's] main goal is clear — to bring another accusation against Russia," a representative of the embassy told reporters.

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The representative stressed that the embassy usually refrained from commenting on newspaper articles based on leakages from the UK security services because nobody was willing to take responsibility for the allegations. He added that the UK Foreign Office habitually left Moscow's requests concerning such publications without answer.

On Thursday, the UK Foreign Office said it assessed "with high confidence" that GRU was "almost certainly" responsible for a series of cyberattacks on political institutions, media outlets and infrastructure across the globe. The Foreign Office mentioned a UK-based TV station among the targets of the attacks.

READ MORE: Russian Embassy: UK Spy Agencies Involved in Incidents With Russian Nationals

Later on Thursday, the Dutch Defense Ministry claimed that four Russian citizens holding diplomatic passports had been expelled from the Netherlands in April on suspicion of an attempted cyberattack on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The Russian Foreign Ministry refuted the claims on Thursday and stressed that the "spymania campaign" unleashed in the Netherlands was seriously hurting bilateral relations with Russia. The ministry pointed out that the Netherlands made the statement ahead of the OPCW opening session, which could set up the "necessary' political background" to push through some illegal initiatives that Russia opposed.

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Canada and the United States subsequently joined the allegations against GRU, claiming that seven Russian military intelligence officials allegedly targeted with cyberattacks the US Westinghouse nuclear power company and multiple anti-doping agencies and athletes. Meanwhile, Russia's proposal for the establishment of a joint task force on cybersecurity has been earlier rejected by Washington.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has said that the United States "poisoned" Russian-US relations by its new allegations against Russian security services. The diplomat noted the danger of fueling tensions between two nuclear powers.

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