'Patriotic hackers' may have meddled - Putin
VLADIMIR Putin has given his boldest hint yet that Russia may have played a role in meddling with the US election, suggesting "patriotic” hackers could have interfered in cyber attacks to aid US President Donald Trump.
While the Russian President continued to deny any state role, his comments to reporters in St Petersburg were a significant departure from the Kremlin's previous assertions that Russia had no responsibility at all, the New York Times reports.
"If (hackers) are patriotically minded, they start making their contributions - which are right, from their point of view - to the fight against those who say bad things about Russia,” he added. "Is that possible? Theoretically, that's possible.”
Mr Putin compared hackers to "artists” who chose their targets depending on how they felt when they woke up in the morning.
US intelligence agencies concluded in January that the Russian leader had directed an "influence campaign” involving cyber attacks intended to tilt the US election in Mr Trump's favour.
"This document's con- clusions are identical to the highly classified assessment, but this document does not include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence on key elements of the influence campaign,” the report prepared by the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency said.
Among the findings was that for years Mr Putin had harboured a grudge against Hillary Clinton after she slammed his autocratic rule while secretary of state.