The U.K. conducted intelligence cyber operations against Argentina in order to block the country's move to regain control of the disputed Falkland Islands, according to documents leaked by intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The documents, reported by Glenn Greenwald's website the Intercept, allege that British intelligence conducted operations between 2006 and 2011, which involved planting computer viruses, circulating propaganda online, and collecting intelligence that would discredit the Argentine government.
The documents allege that a division of British intelligence known as the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG), carried out a “long-running, large scale, pioneering effects operation.”
The stated goal of the operations, according to the documents, was “preventing Argentina from taking over the Falkland Islands by conducting online HUMINT [human intelligence]”, and "effects operations," which aim to disseminate deception and disruption online.
A previous NBC News report on JTRIG's activities, which was based on documents leaked by Snowden, said that the outfit employed "dirty tricks" for use against nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that included spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into "honey traps."
The U.K. has ruled the Falkland Islands, also known as the Malvinas, since 1833. Argentina and the U.K. fought a war over the islands in 1982, which the U.K. won, and which hastened the downfall of the military junta that then ruled Argentina.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has repeatedly attempted to open negotiations with the U.K. about the sovereignty of the islands, but has been rebuffed by Britain. A referendum on the questions regarding who should rule the islands was held in the territory in 2013, in which over 98 percent of islanders eligible to vote opted to remain under British rule.
The dispute between the two countries gained added impetus in 2010, following the discovery of large oil and gas reserves within the islands' territorial waters, which are believed to be worth billions of dollars.
The U.K. announced late last month that it will spend 180 million pounds ($268 million) over the next decade to reinforce the islands' military defenses, Reuters reported.