National Crime Agency investigates alleged hacking of Scottish charity

The Institute for Statecraft, which looks into governance and human rights, claims that the Russian government is behind a cyber attack on its data

The National Crime Agency is investigating the hacking of a state-backed Scottish charity amid speculation that the Russian government was behind the cyber attack.

The Institute for Statecraft, which examines governance and human rights, was hacked last year. Its co-founder, Chris Donnelly, told Sky News that he believed the Russian government was the perpetrator.

The Russian government denied any involvement in the attack.

The Institute for Statecraft’s website is offline and instead features a statement saying that all content has been temporarily removed pending an investigation into the theft of data from the charity and a programme it runs called the Integrity Initiative.

The statement says: "Initial findings indicate that the theft was part of a campaign to undermine the work of the Integrity Initiative in researching, publicising and countering the threat to European democracies from disinformation and other forms of hybrid warfare."

The website will be relaunched soon, the statement says, and an analysis of the hack will also be published.

The charity’s statement references the leaking of information taken from it since November 2018 and says it is keen "to trace both the source of the hack and the use to which our data – some genuine, some falsified – has been put".

The information has been reported in several Kremlin-funded media outlets, Sky News says.

An NCA spokesman said: "We can confirm we are conducting a criminal investigation into a suspected cyber attack against the Institute for Statecraft and the subsequent release of information.

"As our investigation is ongoing, we cannot comment further at this time."

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has been examining the hack since December. A spokesman for the regulator said its inquiry was ongoing.

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