A professor at the University of Edinburgh shared information with a fake Russian spy in an attempt to discredit a non-profit organization investigating Syrian war crimes.
Epidemiologist Paul McKeigue had attempted to uncover details about the Commission for International Justice and Accountability – which is working to collect and preserve evidence of possible crimes committed in Syria.
He asked a source he knew as “ Ivan ” to help him gather evidence that CIA director Bill Wiley worked for the CIA, the BBC reported.
It later emerged that messages that Mr McKeigue said had come from ‘Ivan’ were instead written by members of the Cija, who allegedly assumed the ‘persona’ of a Russian intelligence agent.
Mr McKeigue has insisted that he did nothing wrong during the exchange, claiming that he ‘remained open’ about who he may have spoken to.
Epidemiologist Paul McKeigue (above) had tried to uncover details about the Commission on International Justice and Accountability
During the correspondence with ‘Ivan’, he reportedly shared a draft of a critical report with the Cija that he had co-written with two members of the Syria, Propaganda and Media Working Group.
The working group, of which Mr. McKeigue is also a part, was established to “facilitate the investigation of the areas of organized persuasive communication and media reporting related to the 2011 conflict in Syria, including related topics.”
Mr McKeigue says his concern is not related to the Syrian conflict or any other foreign policy issue, but “ the undermining of the UK parliamentary government by what I now recognize as a ‘deep state’ operating in part through private shutdowns.
The conversation with ‘Ivan’ came about after Mr McKeigue tried to contact Mr Wiley in February, but the Cija boss recognized the sender’s name and decided not to respond.
De Cija, run by Bill Wiley (above), is working to collect and preserve evidence of possible war crimes committed in Syria
The Cija seeks to gather evidence of crimes that are “beyond the reach of international and domestic judicial institutions.” Pictured: Syria
The email had told Mr Wiley that Mr McKeigue and his colleagues were investigating the Cija – whom he already knew – asking questions “about irregularities in his businesses.”
Hours later, Mr. McKeigue received an email from an anonymous source saying, “My office heard from London yesterday that you have some questions about Syria. Maybe we can help you find out the truth. ‘
The couple began to correspond on the Cija and Mr. Wiley, and the anonymous sender soon began to sign his ‘Ivan’ emails.
Mr McKeigue said the anonymous sender had “offered to answer questions about Syria” before taking on the “persona of a Russian intelligence officer.”
He added: “Since I don’t have access to official secrets, this was none of my business.
‘As a citizen researcher I cultivate contacts with all kinds of people who have relevant information, including anonymous sources and some identified sources whose activities I do not endorse.’
Currently, documents collected by the nonprofit are being used in a war crimes trial in which a former Syrian military intelligence officer is accused of torture.
The fake Russian was said to have referred to his Moscow headquarters and the English emails were riddled with spelling errors.
However, it later emerged that the emails had been written by members of the Cija.
The group seeks to gather evidence of crimes that are “beyond the reach of international and domestic judicial institutions.”
In a pronunciation, Mr McKeigue said: ‘In December 2020, I received an anonymous email offering to answer questions about Syria. I wrote back with a few questions and said we were investigating Cija.
The correspondent has not revealed any bond at this stage. In response to my question about Cija, the correspondent claimed that Wiley is a CIA officer and summarized his career.
By checking open sources, I found clear confirmation of this alleged connection, and other evidence that Wiley was hiding things in his background. The correspondent offered to provide more information, so I continued the dialogue.
After the initial exchanges, the correspondent began to hint, eventually mentioning the name “Ivan” and the persona of a Russian intelligence officer. Since I don’t have access to official secrets, I didn’t worry about that. ‘
He added that the email exchange was a “clever deception operation,” adding “that the people on the other end found one of my weaknesses: an obsessiveness with seeking information about what I’m investigating.”
Mr. McKeigue said: “The people on the other side of this sting managed to get me to reveal information about others that was not intended to be shared, along with other information that may have been embellished.
‘This was a failure on my part for which I accept responsibility and apologized to those involved.
“These emails were not intended to be made public, and they contain informal and casual comments that were not written with the care that I would use when writing for publication.”