164694

World  

US officials link Iran to emails meant to intimidate voters

Iran meddling in election?

U.S. officials have accused Iran of being behind a flurry of threatening but fake emails sent to Democratic voters in multiple battleground states in a late-stage efforts to sway public opinion and interfere in the presidential election.

Purportedly from far-right, pro-Trump groups like the Proud Boys, the fake emails were apparently aimed at intimidating voters. John Ratcliffe, the government’s national intelligence director, said the aim was to hurt President Donald Trump in the contest against Democrat Joe Biden, though he did not elaborate on how.

One possibility is the messages may have been intended to align Trump in the minds of voters with the Proud Boys after he was criticized for failing to unequivocally denounce the group during the first presidential debate.

The threatening emails officials did not lay out specific evidence for how they came to pinpoint Iran, but the activities attributed to Tehran would mark a significant escalation for a country some cybersecurity experts regard as a second-rate player in online espionage. The announcement was made late Wednesday at a hastily called news conference 13 days before the election.

The allegations underscored the U.S. government's concern about efforts by foreign countries to influence the election by spreading false information meant to suppress voter turnout and undermine American confidence in the vote. Such direct attempts to sway public opinion are more commonly associated with Moscow, which conducted a covert social media campaign in 2016 aimed at sowing discord and is again interfering this year, but the idea that Iran could be responsible suggested that those tactics have been adopted by other nations, too.

“These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries,” said Ratcliffe, who, along with FBI Director Christopher Wray, insisted that the U.S. would impose costs on any foreign countries that interfere in the 2020 U.S. election and that the integrity of the vote remains sound.

“You should be confident that your vote counts,” Wray said. “Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.”

The two officials called out Russia and Iran for having obtained voter registration information, though such data is sometimes easily accessible and there was no allegation either country had hacked a database for it or had altered any vote tallies. Iran sent spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters and sow unrest and also distributed a video that falsely suggested voters could cast fraudulent ballots from overseas, Ratcliffe said.

Wray and Ratcliffe did not describe the emails linked to Iran, but officials familiar with the matter said the U.S. has linked Tehran to messages that Democratic voters in multiple states, including Alaska and battleground locations like Florida, have received. The emails falsely purported to be from the far-right group Proud Boys and warned that “we will come after you” if the recipients didn’t vote for Trump. A security researcher who examined dozens of the emails

It would not be the first time that the Trump administration has said Tehran is working against the Republican president.

An intelligence assessment released in August said: “Iran seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections." It said the country would probably continue to focus on “spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-U.S. content.”

A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations, Alireza Miryousefi, denied Tehran had anything to do with the alleged voter intimidation.

“Unlike the U.S., Iran does not interfere in other country’s elections,” Miryousefi wrote on Twitter. “The world has been witnessing U.S.' own desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections at the highest level.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador on Thursday over the allegations. The Swiss Embassy has overseen America’s interests in Tehran since the aftermath of the 1979 hostage crisis.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran, while rejecting the allegations and the fake reports, again emphasizes that there’s no difference for Tehran which candidate goes to the White House,” the ministry said in a statement.



More World News

World
155962
London Webcam
Webcam provided by windy.com
162394
Recent Trending
162763
165680
Castanet Proud Member of RTNDA Canada
163183





154288
165885