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Intelligence Officials Accuse Popular US Rightwing Financial Website with “Amplifying Kremlin Propaganda”

February 22nd, 2022 14:39

U.S. media is report­ing that U.S. offi­cials have accused a con­ser­v­a­tive finan­cial web­site with “ampli­fy­ing Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da:” Accord­ing to the AP report:

Feb­ru­ary 15, 2022 WASHINGTON (AP) — U. S. intel­li­gence offi­cials on Tues­day accused a con­ser­v­a­tive finan­cial lnews web­site with a sig­nif­i­cant Amer­i­can read­er­ship of ampli­fy­ing Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da and alleged five media out­lets tar­get­ing Ukraini­ans have tak­en direc­tion from Russ­ian spies. The offi­cials said Zero Hedge, which has 1. 2 mil­lion Twit­ter fol­low­ers, pub­lished arti­cles cre­at­ed by Moscow-con­trolled media that were then shared by out­lets and peo­ple unaware of their nexus to Russ­ian intel­li­gence. The offi­cials did not say whether they thought Zero Hedge knew of any links to spy agen­cies and did not allege direct links between the web­site and Rus­sia. Zero Hedge denied the claims and said it tries to “pub­lish a wide spec­trum of views that cov­er both sides of a giv­en sto­ry.” In a response post­ed online Tues­day morn­ing, the web­site said it “has nev­er worked, col­lab­o­rat­ed or coop­er­at­ed with Rus­sia, nor are there any links to spy agen­cies.” The offi­cials briefed The Asso­ci­at­ed Press on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss sen­si­tive intel­li­gence sources. It was the lat­est effort by Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s admin­is­tra­tion to release U. S. intel­li­gence find­ings about Russ­ian activ­i­ty involv­ing Ukraine as part of a con­cert­ed push to expose and influ­ence the moves of Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. U. S. offi­cials pre­vi­ous­ly accused Putin of plan­ning a “false-flag” oper­a­tion to cre­ate a pre­text for a new inva­sion of Ukraine and detailed what they believe are final-stage Russ­ian prepa­ra­tions for an assault.

Accord­ing to the AP, sev­er­al of the above-ref­er­enced arti­cles on Ukraine were authored by indi­vid­u­als affil­i­at­ed with the Strate­gic Cul­ture Foun­da­tion, sanc­tioned last year for alleged­ly par­tic­i­pat­ing in Rus­si­a’s inter­fer­ence in the 2020 U.S. elec­tion. The U.S. offi­cials said the lead­ers of the Foun­da­tion are direct­ed by the SVR, the Russ­ian for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vice. Two oth­er web­sites with ties to the Strate­gic Cul­ture Foun­da­tion were also iden­ti­fied, as well as three oth­er web­sites alleged to have links to the FSB, Rus­si­a’s fed­er­al secu­ri­ty ser­vice. The AP report cit­ed the intel­li­gence offi­cials on the role of these web­sites in the cur­rent Ukraine crisis:

“These sites enable the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment to secure sup­port among the Russ­ian and Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tions,” one offi­cial said. “This is the pri­ma­ry vec­tor for how the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment will bol­ster sup­port domes­ti­cal­ly for an inva­sion into Ukraine.”Officials described for the first time what they say are direct com­mu­ni­ca­tions between Russ­ian spies and the edi­tors or direc­tors of the media out­lets. They did not release records of the communications.

The AP report fur­ther describes the role of Zero Hedge in spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion regard­ing the COIVD-19 pandemic:

A man­i­festo pub­lished on Zero Hedge’s site defends its use of anony­mous authors and pro­claims its goal is “to lib­er­ate oppressed knowl­edge.” Many arti­cles are pub­lished under the name Tyler Dur­den, also a char­ac­ter in the movie “Fight Club.” The web­site was an ear­ly ampli­fi­er of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and mis­in­for­ma­tion about the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. An Asso­ci­at­ed Press inves­ti­ga­tion deter­mined the site played a piv­otal role in advanc­ing the unproven the­o­ry that Chi­na engi­neered the virus as a bioweapon. It’s also post­ed arti­cles tout­ing nat­ur­al immu­ni­ty to COVID-19 and unproven treatments.Zero Hedge was also cit­ed in a recent report by the Insti­tute for Strate­gic Dia­logue that exam­ined how far-right extrem­ists are har­ness­ing COVID-19 mis­in­for­ma­tion to expand their reach. Twit­ter briefly sus­pend­ed Zero Hedge’s account in 2020 but rein­stat­ed it a few months lat­er, say­ing it “made an error in our enforce­ment action in this case.