Russian agents may have hacked former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s personal phone during her summer leadership challenge that led to her taking the role of prime minister, according to reports.
The agents, suspected of working at the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, may have gained access to top-secret negotiations with key international allies and personal messages between Truss and her future Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng.
A U.K. Government spokesperson told Fox News Digital that while the government does not comment on individual security arrangements, “The Government has robust systems in place to protect against cyber threats,” including “regular security briefings for ministers and advice on protecting their personal data.”
The government allegedly knew of the hack during the summer, but then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case suppressed details about the hack, the Daily Mail reported.
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Truss served as the Foreign Secretary prior to taking over as prime minister. She served as a primary point of contact for the U.K.’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, famously blaming Putin directly for the emerging global energy and food crises.
Rebekah Koffler, the president of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting and a former DIA intelligence officer, told Fox News Digital that it would be no surprise that Russia might target Truss – and no surprise that they would have succeeded.
“It’s a standard operating procedure for Russian intelligence operatives to try and intercept communications of prominent foreign leaders that are high value targets for them,” Koffler said. “The goal is either to exfiltrate intelligence or to embarrass a foreign official by leaking hacked content, if the Russians find something juicy, in terms of personal data.”
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Koffler mentioned previous instances in which Russia was able to flex its hacking capabilities, such as when Russians posted a recording of a phone call they intercepted between U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in which they made disparaging comments about the European Union. She also claimed that Russians freely read President Barack Obama’s unclassified emails.
“If you are a prominent official or a business leader, your phone contains so much data — emails, pictures, voicemails — that can be of value to hostile intelligence services,” Koffler explained. “The Russians are highly skilled at hacking and are always on the hunt for valuable secrets or what they call “kompromat” – compromising information. Cyber hacking an enormous threat for government and business leaders, especially when they travel outside their home country.”
One such message to Kwarteng included criticism of Johnson, which the Government worried could turn into some form of blackmail.
Other messages may have included details about arms shipments to Ukraine.
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A source with knowledge of the alleged incident told the Mail that the initial revelation caused “absolute pandemonium.”
“It is not a great look for the intelligence services if the Foreign Secretary’s phone can be so easily plundered for embarrassing personal messages by agents presumed to be working for Putin’s Russia,” the individual said. As much as a year’s worth of messages may have been downloaded from Truss’s phone.
She may have also been so worried about the breach that she was unable to sleep during the time and feared that new of the hack would undermine her campaign for party leader.
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The U.S. Department of Defense deferred comment to the State Department, who did not respond by time of publication.