Iran and Russia have used stolen voter registration data to send fake emails to incite unrest and damage the integrity of the 2020 election campaign, according to the US intelligence community.
In a late press conference, director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and FBI director Christopher Wray said the two countries had taken specific actions to influence public opinion on the election.
“They hope they will cause confusion, sow chaos, and undermine your confidence in American democracy,” Mr Ratcliffe said.
He said the stolen data was used to send spoof emails in an attempt to damage Donald Trump, and send videos that falsely implied individuals could fraudulently cast ballots from overseas.
Shortly before the announcement, The Washington Post reported that Iran was behind threatening emails sent to Democratic voters this week claiming to be from the “Proud Boys”, which said the group was in “possession of all your information”.
“You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you,” the emails said. “Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply. We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you.”
Mr Ratcliffe said the actions were a “desperate attempts by desperate adversaries,” while Mr Wray said it was part of a concerted effort to undermine confidence in the election and make Americans believe their votes don’t count.
“Early unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism,” Mr Wray said.