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Leaked UK documents may have Russian link, Reddit says

Documents at the heart of an important debate in the upcoming UK general election may have leaked from Russia, according to Reddit.

The online message board said on Friday that the leaked details of a possible trade agreement between the UK and U.S. governments may have come from a Russian campaign dubbed “Secondary Infektion.” Reddit noted that the leaks, which originated in October, bore several similarities to what Secondary Infektion had done on Facebook previously.

Reuters originally reported the link between Secondary Infektion and the Reddit leaks. It’s not confirmed that there is a connection between the leaks and the Russian government, nor have either the UK or U.S. governments disputed or confirmed the legitimacy of the documents. 

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the ruling Conservative Party of trying to sell off the UK’s popular National Health Service to the U.S. based on the leaked documents. The 71-year-old universal healthcare program is one of the UK’s most popular institutions, so any possible change to it is naturally going to be a heated issue in the weeks leading up to a general election.

The documents were first posted to Reddit by an account called u/gregoriator. Reddit found a vote manipulation operation propping up that post, and the accounts doing that apparently worked enough like Secondary Infektion’s previous efforts that Reddit believes the leaks were the group’s doing.

Reddit didn’t get much more specific than that, but it did shut down a subreddit and ban 61 accounts tied to the leaks. If these leaks did indeed come from Russia, they would be similar to previous pre-election leaks involving Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Emmanuel Macron in 2017

That said, those leaks were seemingly meant to benefit right-wing candidates, while the UK leaks have primarily been used to criticize the Conservatives. The election is set for Dec. 12 and the Conservatives have a slight lead in polling.