Details of a potential UK-US free trade deal were leaked online in a way that “closely resembles” a known Russian information operation, a report has found.
Social media researcher Graphika said the 451-page document was shared in a “similar fashion” to material disseminated by Russian operation “Secondary Infektion”.
Jeremy Corbyn unveiled the unredacted papers document last week, saying it was proof the NHS was up for grabs in a post-Brexit trade deal.
Head of investigations at Graphika and author of the report, Ben Nimmo, said the document appears to be genuine but there remains an “urgent question” as to how it came to be leaked just weeks before a general election.
The papers first appeared online on October 21, posted on Reddit by an account called Gregoriator.
According to the report, the account made grammatical errors consistent with those of Sceondary Infektion.
Two days later, the document surfaced on “exactly the same combination” of German-language sites used by the Russian operation.
Meanwhile, an account under the name “Wilbur Gregoratior” republished the original English-language Reddit post on a conspiracy site that was also repeatedly used in the Secondary Infektion campaign.
Twitter account, @gregoratior, then began tweeting it directly to senior UK politicians and media figures.
The leak only made the news in November when it was emailed directly to political activists.
Mr Nimmo said that while the similarities could not prove that Russia was responsible for leaking the papers, it was “too close to be simply a coincidence”.
He warned that it could indicate a return of those behind Secondary Infektion or “a sophisticated attempt by unknown actors to mimic it”.
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