Vladimir Putin ‘personally involved’ in US hack, report claims

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Russian president made key decisions in operation seen as revenge for past criticisms by Hillary Clinton, says NBC

US intelligence officials believe that Vladimir Putin was personally involved in hacking during the American election campaign as part of a vendetta against Hillary Clinton, NBC News has claimed.

The Russian president personally instructed how material hacked from US Democrats was leaked and otherwise used, the US television network said, quoting two senior officials with access to this information.

The officials said they have a high level of confidence in this new assessment, NBC reported.

Last weekend the Washington Post reported a CIA evaluation that Russia had hacked the emails of US persons and institutions as a way to sway the election in favor of Republican Donald Trump, who defeated Clinton on 8 November.

Putin has reportedly never forgiven Clinton then secretary of state for publicly questioning the integrity of parliamentary elections in 2011 in Russia, and accused her of encouraging street protests.

The intelligence officials told NBC that Putins goals in the alleged hacking began as revenge against Clinton.

But they transformed into a broader effort to show that the world of US politics was corrupt and, in the words of one official, to split off key American allies by creating the image that (other countries) couldnt depend on the US to be a credible global leader anymore.

In preparation for possible retaliation, US intelligence agencies have intensified their investigations into Putins personal wealth, NBC said, citing US officials.

Trump, who has spoken warmly of Putin, has dismissed as ridiculous the allegation that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and people close to Clinton.

Leading US lawmakers have called for a formal congressional investigation into the hacking.

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