Speaking to the BBC, Clinton addressed British voters, saying: “Every person who votes in this country deserves to see that report before your election happens.”
It is unclear what exactly the report will say, but Brexit opponents hope that the report — written by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee and based on details collected by British spy agencies — could contain evidence of Russian interference ahead of the 2016 referendum in which Britain voted to leave the European Union. It is also expected to include details on the 2017 election in which then-Prime Minister Theresa May lost her Conservative Party majority in parliament, among other aspects, according to the BBC.
The British government argues the withholding of the report until after the election is not unusual and is not meant to suppress details that would raise doubts over the legitimacy of the Brexit referendum and a general election the following year.
The report has “been lodged with Number 10 [Downing Street] and it will be published in due course,” Conservative politician Michael Gove told BBC Radio 4′s Today program last week.
Yet when the E.U. commissioned its own report on fears of foreign interference in its elections, it was completed and made public in short order, suggesting such delays are not universal.
Some media outlets, including BuzzFeed News, have reported that the unpublished report does not contain any specific evidence of Russian interference in British votes since 2016. Two years ago, May similarly stated that Russia had not successfully and directly influenced the Brexit vote.
But critics wonder why, then, the most extensive report to date has remained unpublished. They say it was referred to the government in mid-October, which would have provided sufficient time to publish the document ahead of the December election.
In an interview with the BBC, Clinton agreed with critics’ sense of urgency, drawing a comparison to the lead-up to the 2016 election in the United States, in which she lost to Donald Trump.
“So there’s no doubt of the role that Russia played in our 2016 election and is continuing to play,” Clinton told the BBC. “I would hate to see that happen here.”
U.S. intelligence agencies say that Russia was behind several efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections — an accusation Moscow has disputed.
Clinton’s criticism echoed remarks by opposition members of Parliament in recent weeks.
“What on earth do they have to hide?” Emily Thornberry, shadow foreign secretary for the opposition party Labour, said on Nov. 5.
The Labour Party also said on Tuesday that it had experienced a “sophisticated and large-scale cyberattack” but claimed that no data breach had occurred. There was no indication that Monday’s attack originated in Russia, but the incident added to concerns over possible interference ahead in British elections.
Downing Street′s secrecy also struck critics as odd because other European governing bodies have responded more quickly and transparently to similar concerns over foreign interference.
After European Parliament elections in the spring, for instance, the European Commission and its foreign policy body released an initial report on foreign interference efforts within weeks. By June, the E.U.’s executive branch publicly drew a nuanced conclusion, in which it stated that “at this point in time, available evidence has not allowed to identify a distinct cross-border disinformation campaign from external sources specifically targeting the European elections.”
However, authorities had identified disinformation efforts “by Russian sources” that targeted the elections in a “continued and sustained” way meant to “suppress turnout and influence voter preferences.”
The report also contained serious criticism of social media networks’ failure to rein in such efforts — in a clear warning to U.S. social media giants.
The report specified the interference had evolved in the course of recent years.
“Instead of conducting large-scale operations on digital platforms, these actors, in particular linked to Russian sources, now appeared to be opting for smaller-scale, localised operations that are harder to detect and expose,” its authors wrote.
As a result, the commission vowed to decide about more specific countermeasures by the end of 2019. Meanwhile, British opposition members of Parliament worry that British voters, by that time, are likely to still be in the dark over whether and if so, how, their democratic processes were influenced almost four years ago.