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MP Demands Public Inquiry Into 'Information War Effort' Integrity Initiative

© Sputnik / Kirill Kallinikov / Go to the mediabankA man behind a laptop.
A man behind a laptop. - Sputnik International
On December 4, Chris Williamson MP tabled a parliamentary question, asking whether Integrity Initiative - a "so-called think-tank dealing in disinformation" - had received UK government funding. The response was affirmative, and the outspoken Labour representative is calling for a full public inquiry into the organization’s activities as a result.

Williamson's query revealed Integrity Initiative had received in excess of US$2.76 million (£2.2 million) in Whitehall funding since the start of 2017, an exposure he labelled "stunning" in a widely-shared Twitter video.

"Staffed by former security and military personnel, its agenda seems to include the denigration of the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn. Their approach is to connect media with academia and politicians, to influence policy in certain countries. Leaked documents reveal numerous examples, such as Pedro Banos, an army reservist and author, who the Spanish socialist party wanted to make the country's Director of National Security — that was before the Integrity Initiative's Spanish cluster got involved," Williamson says.

​The explosive files Williamson refers to were posted online on November 5 by hacking group Anonymous — it would be over a month until they were mentioned in the mainstream media. The files boast of the success of 'Operation Moncloa', the effort to block Banos' appointment and document how it was achieved.

Members of the Integrity Initiative's Spanish 'cluster' — including Gonzalez Ponz, spokesperson of the Partido Popular in the European parliament, and Nacho Torreblanco, director of the European Council for Foreign Relations Office in Madrid — colluding via a WhatsApp group to flood Twitter with anti-Banos messages, and provide the Spanish media with a 'dossier' of negative material on the former head of counterintelligence and security for the European army. Their efforts were supported by members of the Initiative's UK cluster, and within 24-hours the appointment had been blocked.

"A Foreign Office-funded British think-tank stopped the appointment of a public official in a fellow European democracy. And these are the people defending freedom?" Williamson despairs.

Similar Tricks

Troublingly, Williamson says it now seems "similar tricks are being played" in the UK. Ben Nimmo, a member of the Integrity Initiative's UK cluster and fellow at the Atlantic Council, co-authored an article with Jonathan Eyal of the Royal United Services Institute alleging RT broadcast "systematic bias in favour of Corbyn" when he first stood for the Labour leadership. Nimmo was also quoted in the Sun newspaper saying Russia was "supporting Corbyn against his opponents both in the Labour party and outside it".

© Cyberguerrilla.orgIntegrity Initiative's UK-based experts, including Igor Sutyagin, who was convicted of treason for passing secret documents to a UK firm.
Integrity Initiative's UK-based experts, including Igor Sutyagin, who was convicted of treason for passing secret documents to a UK firm. - Sputnik International
Integrity Initiative's UK-based experts, including Igor Sutyagin, who was convicted of treason for passing secret documents to a UK firm.

The controversial newspaper cited this in support of its evidence-free claim "a twisted Russian cyber campaign which backed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is aiming to sow division across the UK".

"How many other stories like this have been entirely fabricated, and with government funding too? We don't know, because Minister of State Alan Duncan refused to provide any further information, claiming it could 'disrupt and undermine the program's effectivesness'. Effectiveness at what? Interfering in the politics of other countries while undermining the leader of Britain's opposition? Because that's precisely what it's doing. That's why I'm calling for a public inquiry into the Integrity Initiative. [They] don't strengthen democracy, [they] debase it," he concludes.

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