Obama to retaliate against Russia over ‘election hacking’

Washington, Dec 16 (IANS) US President Barack Obama on Friday said he will retaliate against Russia over its “malicious cyber-activity” during the November 8 US presidential elections.

“I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections… we need to take action,” Obama told US NPR radio station.

“And we will, at a time and place of our own choosing,” he added.

“There are still a whole range of assessments taking place among the agencies,” Obama told the radio, referring to an order he has given to intelligence community to conduct a full review.

“There’s no doubt that it contributed to an atmosphere in which the only focus for weeks at a time, months at a time were Hillary’s emails, the Clinton Foundation, political gossip surrounding the DNC,” Obama said.

US intelligence officials have concluded that hackers working for Russia interfred into the Democratic National Committee’s computer network, as well as the private email of John Podesta, a top adviser to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Obama acknowledged that every “big power” spies and collects intelligence on each other, but, he said: “There’s a difference between that and the kind of malicious cyber-attacks that steal trade secrets or engage in industrial espionage, something that we’ve seen the Chinese do….”

Obama discussed cyber-security with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a 90-minute meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit held in China in early September. The President characterised the meeting at the time as “candid, blunt, businesslike”.

“Putin is well aware of my feelings about this, because I spoke to him directly about it,” Obama said.

However, the Kremlin has flatly denied any interference in the US elections, and neither intelligence agencies in the US nor the White House have publicly shared concrete evidence of Russian manipulation.

Republican President-elect Donald Trump had called the claims “ridiculous” and questioned why the White House had only taken action after he had won the election.

–IANS

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