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.
The realisation has only really just struck me hard that the people who have been most vocal in making totally false claims that I am in any way paid by Russia, were themselves being secretly paid to make those claims by my former employer, the FCO, via the Integrity Initiative.— Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) January 22, 2019
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.
We've temporarily removed all content from our website, pending an investigation into the theft of data from the Institute for Statecraft and the Integrity Initiative. The website will be relaunched shortly. https://t.co/aS5fnnmffV— Integrity Initiative (@InitIntegrity) January 21, 2019
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.
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.
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