The U.K. government's decision to delay the publication of a report on alleged Russian interference in British politics has been slammed as "inexplicable and shameful" by former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Speaking to the BBC Monday, Clinton said she was "dumbfounded that this government won't release the report about Russian influence because every person who votes in this country (the U.K.) deserves to see that report before your election happens."
"I find it inexplicable that your government will not release a government report about Russian influence. Inexplicable and shameful," she said.
Clinton's comments refer to a decision by the U.K. government to delay the publication of a report investigating Russian influence in British politics until after a general election on December 12.
The BBC said the report "includes allegations of espionage, subversion and interference in elections." "It contains evidence from U.K. intelligence services such as GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 concerning covert Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 EU referendum and 2017 general election," the BBC said.
Russia is believed to have interfered in the 2016 U.S. election that saw Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton to the presidency. Allegations of Russian interference prompted a near two-year long investigation led by Robert Mueller. The inquiry said that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in "sweeping and systematic fashion" and had been designed to favor Trump and harm Clinton's campaign.
Mueller said the inquiry did not establish that the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference campaign.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today program on Monday, Clinton said "there is no doubt - we know it in our country, we have seen it in Europe, we have seen it here - that Russia in particular is determined to try to shape the politics of western democracies.
"Not to our benefit, but to theirs," she said, "there's no doubt of the role that Russia played in our 2016 election and is continuing to play."
Russia's interference in the U.S. election was seen as ranging from the leaking of documents to using social media to spread propaganda.
On Tuesday, the opposition Labour party said it had been subjected to a "sophisticated and large-scale cyber attack" on its digital platforms and the BBC quoted one unnamed Labour source as saying it had detected "tens of millions of attacks — mostly originating from Russia and Brazil." It said the attack had failed because of its security system and that no data breach had occurred.
The U.K. government has attracted widespread criticism after it announced last Monday that it would not allow a report examining Russian infiltration into U.K. politics to be published prior to the dissolution of Parliament ahead of the election.
The report was compiled by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) and includes analysis from British intelligence agencies. It requires clearance from the government to be released.
A government minister said on Tuesday that the report had not yet been published because of necessary procedure. Speaking to broadcaster ITV, the Deputy Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said "it is absolutely normal that reports like this go through a period of vetting which does take several weeks." He also said all donations to the Conservative party were transparent and fully in accordance with the rules, Reuters reported. For its part, Russia has previously denied meddling in foreign elections.
With political parties in full campaign mode ahead of the general election next month, the government was accused of a cover-up by the opposition Labour Party. The Sunday Times newspaper also reported that nine Russian donors to the ruling Conservative Party have been named in the secret intelligence report. It also said that intelligence agencies are "furious" over the government's block on the publication of the report.
But a government minister of state defended the delay of the report, telling parliament last week that it was "not unusual" for delays to happen when reviewing and responding to ISC reports. He also stated that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been busy in recent weeks obtaining a Brexit deal.