MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull said Monday that he believed that media reports about Australia's diplomat tip-off that was a factor contributing to the launch of the FBI's investigation into Russia's alleged meddling in the US presidential election would not have a negative impact on the relations with the United States.
On Saturday, The New York Times newspaper reported, citing sources, that a conversation between Alexander Downer, the Australian high commissioner to the United Kingdom, and George Papadopoulos, the former aide of US President Donald Trump's campaign, during which the latter reportedly passed the information about Moscow's alleged possessing emails from servers belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), served as a trigger for the Russian probe launch.
"The relationship is in excellent shape and the connections between Australia and the United States are so diverse, numerous, so strong, and indeed, our relationship through the State Department is excellent as well," Turnbull said, adding that he did not think that the reports might mar relations with Trump.
According to The New York Times' article, in May 2016, Papadopoulos had an informal conversation with Downer, during which he said he was aware that Moscow allegedly possessed hundreds of stolen emails that would damage the reputation of then Democrats' presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Two months later, when the stolen emails appeared on the Internet, the Australian officials passed the information provided by Papadopoulos to the US colleagues, which served as a driver of the investigation' launch by the FBI into Moscow's alleged interference in the US presidential election.
In July 2016, WikiLeaks published the data from servers belonging to the DNC during the presidential campaign in the United States. A January report by the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI) alleged that Russia-backed hackers stole emails from servers belonging to the DNC. According to the DNI, stolen emails were then provided to WikiLeaks, which released the email contents to the public over the course of the US election.
Russia has repeatedly denied the accusations of Moscow's interference in the US presidential election, saying that it had not served the interests of Russia and calling the allegations absurd. Senior Russian officials, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, have stated on numerous occasions that the accusations by Washington have not been supported by any concrete facts or evidence and no "Russian trace" has been established within the framework of the US probe.
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