UK government probes Russian interference in the Catalan referendum


A BRITISH Parliamentary Committee that has launched an enquiry into the ‘fake news’ phenomenon will hear testimonies into how Russian entities interfered in the Catalan independence referendum.

The investigation is being carried out by the UK Government’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, chaired by Conservative MP Damian Collins, which aims to uncover how so-called ‘fake news’ has impacted on recent important political events in the West including the US election and Brexit.

The committee will hold their first session today (Tuesday) in order to collect evidence about how online information was reportedly manipulated in the run up to the Catalan independence vote on October 1.

Collins explained how their objective is to expose how ‘fake news’ is being used as a weapon by foreign governments in electoral processes, and that they have already received evidence to suggest there was foreign interference in the Catalan referendum.

A trail of ‘fake news’, allegedly left by Russian websites and social media profiles, was detected during the recent Catalan independence movement, according to an investigation carried out by Spanish newspaper El Pais in recent months.

Three experts on the matter are expected to testify at the session: David Alandete, deputy director of ‘El Pais’, Francisco de Borja Lasheras, Director of the  European Council on Foreign Relations’ (ECFR) Madrid Office, and Mira Milosevich-Juaristi, Associate Professor of International Relations at the IE Business School in Madrid.

The committee also plans to interview the heads of major global technology companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, and will produce a report for the British Government detailing its findings, which is scheduled to be published around Easter 2018.

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