Russia And China Reject Microsoft Report of Alleged Meddling in US Election

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MOSCOW/BEIJING – Russia and China rejected an allegation by Microsoft that they are allegedly “seeking to meddle in the United States’ 2020 presidential election”, accusing the American tech giant of fabrication and attempts of creating trouble where there is none.

RUSSIA

“Microsoft’s conclusions Russia allegedly interfered in the US election do not deserve attention as long as there is no substantial proof”, Russian Presidential Spokesman, Dmitry Peskov told the media on Friday.

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“Since the end of 2016 (when the first claims emerged that a group of ‘Russian hackers’ had been exposed) we have not seen any sensible arguments, proof or anything else <…> that might indicate that some organizations related to Russia might have been involved in some cybercrime,” Peskov said, TASS reported.

“You will agree that there was no sensible information then. There were some absolutely groundless charges, some phobias that there must be Russian cyber monsters behind any cybercrime. If this [Microsoft report] follows the same pattern, it is merely indicative of low qualification. If there are some professional arguments there [in the Microsoft report], then they should be turned an attentive ear to, of course,” Peskov said.

The presidential spokesman said he had not seen the Microsoft report himself yet and asked journalists to quote some of the arguments the company’s analysts had used.

“What makes Microsoft think that it was a group of Russian hackers?” he asked, adding, “What makes them think that they were Chinese, Iranian and Russian [hackers]? Does the report say so? Why didn’t they say that there had been French or Polish hackers, or an Estonian group involved?”

Peskov promised he would make more comments on this issue as soon as journalists found in the published report at least some proof that the cybercriminals belonged to a certain country.

In response to a quote from the report read out by journalists that US intelligence officials had allegedly found evidence of Russia’s meddling in the elections Peskov said that “the US intelligence has repeatedly made mistakes and this was recognized in the process of various investigations and parliamentary probes”.

“It was recognized by US legislators themselves and their commissions that looked into Russia’s rumored interference in elections. Then there followed official conclusions by these commissions that Russia had not interfered in the elections,” he said.

The Kremlin spokesman called for interpreting such reports “with far greater tolerance.”

“We’ve heard all this many times, to our regret. I can merely say once again that Russia did not intervene, does not intervene and has no intention to intervene in any country’s internal affairs or election processes. Likewise, we strongly dislike it when others try to meddle in our affairs,” Peskov said.

CHINA

“The US presidential election is the US’s internal affair,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a regular press conference in Beijing on Friday, PressTV reported.

“We have no interest to interfere in it, and we never interfered in it,” he added.

The remarks came after Microsoft claimed that it had allegedly detected Chinese, Russian, and Iranian efforts to target “people and organizations involved in the upcoming presidential election”.

Microsoft claimed that the attempts had been launched against campaigns associated with both US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden. It also claimed that most of the attacks had been “detected and stopped by security tools built into our products”.

Separately on Friday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh also rejected the allegation by Microsoft. Khatibzadeh said Tehran had no interest in the outcome of the US election. Relations between the United States and China have hit the lowest level in decades over a range of issues, including trade, human rights, the South China Sea, Taiwan, and the coronavirus pandemic.

The US has also been using national security pretexts as an excuse to impose restrictions on Chinese communication apps and technologies. It has already targeted Chinese tech giant Huawei over allegations of security threats. Washington has also banned China’s popular video-sharing service TikTok as well as WeChat from operating in the US.

Zhao warned in his Friday remarks “the world had to be on high alert instead for American tech corporations installing back doorways and harvesting private information for safety services”.

BACKGROUND

With the US presidential election two months away, Twitter, Google, and Facebook have all said they are reinforcing protections to curb the “spread of misinformation”. The US corporation Microsoft on Thursday claimed that hackers from Russia, Iran and China were allegedly behind cyberattacks against individuals and organizations related to the forthcoming US presidential election.

Microsoft claims that a hacker group called Strontium (also known under the nickname Fancy Bear – TASS), allegedly operating from Russia, carried out attacks against 200 organizations, including election teams, human rights groups and parties.

Supposed groups operating from China and Iran are alleged to have targeted senior officials connected with the election teams of Donald Trump and Joseph Biden. The company claims that its protection instruments had “timely exposed and prevented most of these attacks”. All of the organizations and individuals that were reportedly attacked received corresponding notifications from Microsoft.

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