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Liz Truss’s personal phone hacked by Putin’s spies

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Published: 17:41 BST, 29 October 2022 | Updated: 22:00 BST, 29 October 2022

Liz Truss’s personal mobile phone was hacked by agents suspected of working for the Kremlin, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The cyber-spies are believed to have gained access to top-secret exchanges with key international partners as well as private conversations with her leading political ally, Kwasi Kwarteng.

One source said that the phone was so heavily compromised that it has now been placed in a locked safe inside a secure Government location.

Liz Truss’s personal phone – including private messages she exchanged with Kwasi Kwarteng – was hacked by agents suspected of working for Russian President Vladimir Putin

The former Prime Minister’s phone was reportedly compromised while Ms Truss was Foreign Secretary

The hack was discovered during the summer’s Tory leadership campaign, when Ms Truss was Foreign Secretary, but the details were suppressed by Boris Johnson, who was Prime Minister at the time, and the Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case.

It is understood that messages which fell into foreign hands included criticisms Ms Truss and her future Chancellor Mr Kwarteng made of Mr Johnson, leading to the potential risk of blackmail. Sources said that up to a year’s worth of messages were downloaded.

They are also believed to have included highly sensitive discussions with senior international foreign ministers about the war in Ukraine, including detailed discussions about arms shipments.

The astonishing incident, disclosed by security sources, solves the mystery of why Ms Truss was forced to change the mobile number she had used for over a decade shortly before becoming Prime Minister. The move caused anxiety among Cabinet Ministers and advisers who were suddenly unable to contact her.

It is understood that messages which fell into foreign hands included criticisms Ms Truss and her future Chancellor Mr Kwarteng made of Mr Johnson, leading to the potential risk of blackmail. Sources said that up to a year’s worth of messages were downloaded

A source with knowledge of the incident said yesterday that the security breach ‘caused absolute pandemonium – Boris was told immediately, and it was agreed with the Cabinet Secretary that there should be a total news blackout.

‘It is not a great look for the intelligence services if the Foreign Secretary’s phone can be so easily plundered for embarrassing personal messages by agents presumed to be working for Vladimir Putin’s Russia.’

Allies of Ms Truss said she was worried that if news of the hack leaked, it could derail her chance of claiming the Premiership, adding that she ‘had trouble sleeping’ until Mr Case imposed a news blackout.

A source with knowledge of the incident said yesterday that the security breach ‘caused absolute pandemonium – Boris was told immediately, and it was agreed with the Cabinet Secretary that there should be a total news blackout

Former Conservative Party leader and leading Russia critic Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘This is what we’re up against. Russia does this all the time. This is their sole purpose – their way to get back at us. We are all far too casual about our phones in general. Ministers should be much more careful and should not be using their personal phones for anything. I assume my private phone is being hacked.’

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: ‘This is extremely serious – it shows the severity of the threats from countries that would do us harm and why cyber-security needs to be taken so seriously by everyone in Government. We need to know that the Government recognises the gravity of this.’

A Government spokesman said last night: ‘We do not comment on individuals’ security arrangements. The Government has robust systems in place to protect against cyber threats. That includes regular security briefings for Ministers, and advice on protecting their personal data.’

Former Conservative Party leader and leading Russia critic Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘This is what we’re up against. Russia does this all the time’

It is believed agents, suspected to have been working for Russian President Vladimir Putin, gained access to top-secret details of negotiations with key international allies

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: ‘This is extremely serious – it shows the severity of the threats from countries that would do us harm and why cyber-security needs to be taken so seriously by everyone in Government’

Security expert Professor Antony Glees said he was ‘gobsmacked’ by The Mail on Sunday’s revelations, adding: ‘What has happened here is absolutely appalling and is indicative of a Government that was extremely lax when it came to matters of national security.

‘We have Ministers using their private phones to conduct Government business over WhatsApp and their personal email, and this has to stop immediately. It is totally irresponsible. It is absolutely terrifying.

‘What is doubly horrifying is Boris Johnson knew this had happened but chose not to communicate it. And I fear that Liz Truss may not be alone in having her phone compromised.

‘The obvious suspects are Russia, China, North Korea and Iran who would have huge interest in knowing what the Foreign Secretary is communicating. The number one suspect, however, would be Russia.’

The security services have grown increasingly concerned about the threat posed by hackers working for hostile countries with mobile phones regarded as the ‘soft underbelly’ of the modern state.

An Israeli system called Pegasus, which gains access to phones without the owner knowing, was allegedly used by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to hack Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The spyware can be launched on phones with a text message, which does not even have to be opened, just received. It then runs secretly in the background, gaining access to everything on the device and tracking its movements.

Former senior military intelligence officer Philip Ingram said: ‘Ms Truss’s phone will be in a secure Government location, which means a secure cage where the device can be forensically examined by experts but without the hackers knowing.’

Another security source said: ‘It takes a while to track who is behind attacks like these, but Russia tends to top the list.’

An Israeli system called Pegasus, which gains access to phones without the owner knowing, was allegedly used by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to hack Amazon founder Jeff Bezos

Ms Truss took an uncompromising approach to Putin during her time as Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister while the UK has been one of the strongest supporters of Ukraine

Ms Truss took an uncompromising approach to Putin during her time as Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister while the UK has been one of the strongest supporters of Ukraine.

The Mail on Sunday also reveals today that during the final days of her Premiership, Ms Truss became fixated by the weather forecast in case Russia deployed a nuclear device in or near Ukraine – as she was concerned about a possible radioactive cloud heading for the UK. ‘Liz was obsessed with the prevailing wind,’ said a source.

The Mail on Sunday revealed earlier this month that Ms Truss’s mobile phone number – the one that can now be revealed to have been hacked – was for sale on the internet, along with those of 25 Cabinet Ministers, for just £6.49.

Russia’s embassy in London was approached for comment.

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