According to US intelligence, Russia and Iran stole data from registered voters. There are said to be fake threatening emails in circulation – this apparently intimidated democratic voters.
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Iran and Russia are interfering in the US election, according to the US intelligence coordinator. They spread false information and illegally stole “some” of the personal information of registered voters, said John Ratcliffe on Wednesday evening (local time) at a press conference called at short notice.
The data could be misused to misinform voters and create confusion, he said. Iranian authorities had sent e-mails with the aim of “intimidating voters, stirring up social unrest and harming President Trump,” said Ratcliffe.
“Will not tolerate interference”
The emails sent were apparently recently leaked letters that were sent on behalf of the right-wing US group “Proud Boys”, as US media reported, citing the Department of Homeland Security. The emails went mainly to Democratic voters in parts of the states of Alaska and Florida. The recipients were threatened and asked to vote for Trump. Ratcliffe did not give details of the emails, but referred to the media reports.
He assured Ratcliffe the Americans that the integrity of the November 3rd election would not be compromised. “Rest assured, your votes are safe,” said Ratcliffe. FBI chief Christopher Wray added: “We will not tolerate foreign interference in our election or any criminal activity that undermines the integrity of your voice or the public’s confidence in the outcome of the election.”
Ratcliffe and Wray did not provide any information on how much voter data Iran and Russia are said to have captured. Registered voter data is typically stored locally in counties and municipalities in the United States. No information was given as to which states or locations the voter data should come from.
However, it remained unclear what motive Iran should have for its actions. The US secret services are convinced that Tehran is hoping for Trump to be voted out of office. To what extent the emails calling for Trump’s election served this purpose remained unclear.
In addition, Iran has released a video falsely claiming that it is easy to cast fake votes at home and abroad, Ratcliffe said. “These acts are desperate attempts by desperate enemies,” said Ratcliffe. The secret services have not yet detected any such actions by Russia. As in 2016, Moscow had captured data on voters.