American intelligence officials on Tuesday accused the conservative financial news site Zero Hedge of spreading Russian propaganda, The Associated Press reports.
The officials to the AP that Zero Hedge, which has over 1.2 million Twitter followers, published articles from Russian-controlled media that were then shared by other media outlets unaware of their links to Russian intelligence operations.
The officials did not say whether they believed Zero Hedge was aware of the links to Russian spy agencies. They did not link the website to any Russian agency or website.
Zero Hedge in recent months published numerous articles accusing the United States of stoking panic about Ukraine as Russia amasses troops around its border.
Some of the articles were listed as written by people with the Strategic Culture Foundation, which was sanctioned by the Biden administration last year for its role in 2020 election interference and its ties to Russian foreign intelligence service SVR.
Zero Hedge denies:
Zero Hedge said in a statement that it seeks to “publish a wide spectrum of views that cover both sides of a given story.”
The website said it has “never worked, collaborated or cooperated with Russia, nor are there any links to spy agencies.”
The site also accused the AP of publishing a “bizarre hit piece” and accused government officials of trying to district from “our views of the current dismal US economic situation."
“The bottom line is that such hit piece accusations that we somehow work with or for the Kremlin are nothing new: we have repeatedly faced similar allegations over the years, and we can absolutely confirm that all of them are ‘errors,’” the website said.
More websites involved:
Intelligence officials told the AP that two other websites, Odna Rodyna and Fondsk, were directed by the Strategic Culture Foundation and three others, NewsFront, PolitNavigator, and Antifashist, had ties to the FSB, Russia’s spy agency.
“These sites enable the Russian government to secure support among the Russian and Ukrainian populations,” one official said. “This is the primary vector for how the Russian government will bolster support domestically for an invasion into Ukraine.”
Officials accused the unidentified sites of having direct communications with Russian spies.