Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning publications on cyberattacks

Question: Recently there have been numerous publications in British media regarding alleged Russian hacker attacks against the UK infrastructure. Has the Embassy received any evidence from British officials on this?

Answer: The Embassy has not received any official evidence from the British side on either of these publications. We believe this clearly shows that there is nothing behind them. For instance, on 6th October an article in the “Financial Times” alleged that in 2015 Russia hacked the UK-based “Islam Channel”. Embassy diplomats visited the channel and even invited its Chief Editor to attend the Ambassador’s press conference. Upon asking a question regarding this publication we received a clear statement that at the time nothing whatsoever was said about Russian role in the attack. Moreover, it is worth noting that the issue was precisely raised now, as part of the widespread and coordinated campaign in the UK media aimed at denigration of our country.

In the meantime more and more facts appear to confirm the cyberattack by the British secret services on a Belgian telecom company “Belgacom” aimed at intercepting communications of EU officials, as well as Brussels-based diplomats. This story was widely covered by the Belgian media, yet the UK is clearly trying to sweep it under the carpet.

It is again worth mentioning that, trying to evade awkward questions, the British authorities relate to “national security reasons”. By the way we have heard such excuses with regard to the Salisbury incident. This brings us to the conclusion that Belgium is unlikely to receive any specific answers from the UK authorities.

At one stage the Foreign Office wrote to us that Britain has cyber-potential, but will use in strict accordance with international law. Highly likely that the Belgium case is a brilliant example of this.