British intelligence chiefs are trying to stop U.S. President Donald Trump from leaking secret information on Russia’s alleged meddling in foreign elections, a new report suggests.
The Trump’s White House, which is under a high-profile investigation for alleged “collusion” with Russia, is set to release pages of a secret FBI document that shows the probe was planned long before he won the 2016 presidential race.
However, heads of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6, warn that releasing the data undermines the agency’s intelligence gathering process, the Telegraph reported Wednesday.
The strong opposition has prompted Trump and his allies ask why London would oppose the move unless it has something to hide.
This makes the Trump-Russia case even more complicated, bring into play the UK’s possible role in the FBI inquiry into the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin.
The document shows that the FBI had submitted a request to wiretap Carter Page, a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, in October 2016, a month before the election.
The request was approved by a secret court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The initial permit ran for 90 days but was renewed several times.
The FBI request was partly based on allegations included in a notorious Democratic-funded dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent.
The so-called Russian dossier accused page of discussing U.S. sanctions on Russia with two senior Russian representatives during his trip to Moscow in July 2016.
It also claims that the two sides talked about a purported file of compromising information about Trump that the Kremlin had in possession.
Citing more than a dozen UK and US officials, including in U.S. intelligence, the report by the Telegraph noted that British spy chiefs had "genuine concern" that releasing the classified parts of the FBI wiretap request would expose their sources.
"It boils down to the exposure of people," one U.S. intelligence official said. "We don't want to reveal sources and methods."
Another unnamed official told the daily that the decision would set a dangerous "precedent" and discourage cooperation with British agencies, fearing that one day it could become public.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has a lukewarm relationship with Trump, is understood to have not raised the issue directly with the U.S. president.
Trump first said in September that he would declassify 21 pages from the request only to backtrack shortly afterwards. He said earlier this month that he was "very seriously" considering it.
Britain and Australia are understood to oppose the decision.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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