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(Reuters) — A new website that published leaked emails from several leading proponents of Britain’s exit from the European Union is tied to Russian hackers, according to a Google cybersecurity official and the former head of U.K. foreign intelligence.
The website — titled “Very English Coop d'Etat” — says it has published private emails from former British spymaster Richard Dearlove, leading Brexit campaigner Gisela Stuart, pro-Brexit historian Robert Toombs, and other supporters of Britain's divorce from the EU, which was finalized in January 2020.
The site contends that they are part of a group of hardline pro-Brexit figures secretly calling the shots in the United Kingdom.
Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the emails, but two victims of the leak on Wednesday confirmed that they had been targeted by hackers and blamed the Russian government.
“I am well aware of a Russian operation against a Proton account which contained emails to and from me,” said Mr. Dearlove, referring to the privacy-focused email service ProtonMail.
Mr. Dearlove, who led Britain's foreign spy service — known as MI6 — between 1999 and 2004, told Reuters the leaked material should be treated with caution given “the context of the present crisis in relations with Russia.”
The Russian embassies in London and Washington did not return emails seeking comment.
Britain's Foreign Office, which handles media queries for MI6, declined comment. Other Brexit supporters whose emails were suspected of being disseminated on the website also did not respond to emails.