Anonymous has released files, which, according to the group, are linked to the activities of the UK government-funded Integrity Initiative, which also receives funding from other sources. According to the files, the project is setting up a network of offices in former USSR countries and European states.
The latest batch of files published by the hacktivists, purportedly from the Institute for Statecraft, refers to a campaign to an influence campaign in the Balkans. Hackers released, among other documents, a letter, allegedly by Chris Donnelly, the head of the Institute for Statecraft, in which he proposed his methods and strategy for an information campaign in the Balkans. The letter is dated 15 October, and although the year is not stated, it appears to be from 2018.
According to the hackers, Donnelly wrote the letter when he was preparing to ask the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to provide the Institute for Statecraft and Edelman Intelligence consultancy with $7 million.
The document suggested that the Foreign Office had said that the initial proposal had had "too much research." Donnelly's letter lists more practical steps and the involvement of local partners.
In particular, Donnelly recommended fostering local partnerships to analyse "the specifics of governance in each country which creates the basis for vulnerabilities to interference and corrupt practices." He suggested that each country had a "national goal" that could be used as leverage. For Macedonia, a NATO membership was cited as an example of such a goal.
Donnelly went on to say that a strategy, "practical activities tailored to local needs" should be developed with the help of local partners.
"In Serbia, for example, we used the Club de Madrid to get the former Spanish [Minister of Defense] MOD, Narcis Serra, to act as mentor to the then MOD Boris Tadic. I brought Tadic to London via the Atlantic Treaty Association… to expand his horizons and link him to MPs. He eventually became president," Donnelly's letter said.
Meanwhile, Edelman Intelligence could work on advertising campaigns, TV series, English language training "giving the right messages," the letter added.
Donnelly said that the church might also be useful in influence campaigns, saying that Metropolitan Emmanuel, the "Orthodox Bishop to the EU" was "engaged… to bring leaders of all religions from Belgrade to a workshop in Vlatadon monastery in Greece… and [we] also engaged the Catholic hierarchy via a parish and diocesan link, which gave us good local publicity and trust."
The authors of the document cited an article in Politico outlet about BBC reopening its Serbian language service, launching a website and announcing partnerships with local media. The article suggested that this was part of a soft-power campaign aimed at countering alleged fake news from Russia. The story cited a 2016 report by the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, which found that there were more than 100 Serbian organisations promoting close ties with Russia.
Integrity Initiative has not confirmed yet whether the documents are authentic, although it partially confirmed the authenticity of some of the previous releases.
The documents on the project were first published in November. Hacktivists suggested that the United Kingdom may have used the project to interfere in the internal affairs of European countries and to wage an information campaign against Russia.
The UK Foreign Office has recognised several published documents as credible.
According to the files released by Anonymous hacker group, the Institute for Statecraft listed renewed BBC Serbian broadcasts as one of the key issues in a campaign to counter Russia in the Balkans.
The hackers suggest that the Institute for Statecraft wanted to secure 5.5 million pounds (or $7 million) in funding from the UK government. The activists published what they said was a letter by Chris Donnelly, the head of the Institute for Statecraft, dated October 15, Monday. The year was not stated, but appeared to be 2018. In this letter, Donnelly shared his ideas on an information campaign in the Balkans.