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British military whistleblower says UK spied on lockdown dissidents

'The work I was doing should never have happened'

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January 30, 2023


10:20 AM

British military whistleblower says UK spied on lockdown dissidents

A British military operative has admitted to being a part of clandestine surveillance operations which spied on those who questioned the government’s lockdown policies in 2020.

The anonymous whistleblower told The Mail on Sunday about being recruited in March 2020 to the 77th Brigade, a shadowy military unit under the Defense Ministry. The soldier was told the unit would be “helping root out foreign state misinformation on social media.”

“We were told what was legally allowed – such as 'scraping' online platforms for keywords – and what was illegal. This included repeatedly looking at a named UK individual's account without authorisation, although some people would do that from their own accounts after their shift,” says the whistleblower.

The operatives would take screenshots of tweets by British citizens criticizing the government’s COVID-19 response, which would be sent back to the Cabinet Office. The Cabinet Office would review the tweets and then direct the 77th Brigade’s project leader for what to look for the next day.

The whistleblower came to realize that instead of monitoring foreign state media, they were monitoring private British citizens who criticized lockdowns. In order to do this within the confines of the law, they were told that profiles which did not explicitly say their real name and nationality may be foreign agents.

The unit was so focused on domestic dissenters that the whistleblower believes they missed actual foreign state misinformation, such as Chinese social media campaigns to promote lockdowns. The whistleblower began to see that the government was more interested in protecting its policies than countering foreign interference.

Recently, I looked over my medals and thought of all I have done in my career – things I am proud of, in the defence of the people of this country – except my work on 'disinformation' in 77, which hangs over my career like a black cloud.

It was about domestic perception, not national security. Frankly, the work I was doing should never have happened. This domestic monitoring of citizens seemed not to be driven by a desire to address the public's concerns, but to identify levers for compliance with controversial Government policies.

The UK also had other units running similar operations, such as the Counter Disinformation Unit under the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and the Cabinet Office’s Rapid Response Unit. These units would search for expressions of dissent online and then post official rebuttals on social media.

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