MI6 is locked in a secret battle with US President Donald Trump to persuade him not to disclose documents linked to the Russian election-meddling probe – it has been revealed.
Intelligence sources on both sides of the Atlantic told the Telegraph that spy bosses in London were frantically appealing to Trump not to make the classified documents public.
The President’s aides have reportedly hit back with questions over why Britain wants the documents to be kept secret.
Trump has threatened to release a series of documents which the UK believes could reveal intelligence sources
Authorities at MI6 (pictured) say they believe the declassification could set a ‘dangerous precedent’ and dissuade sources from coming forward in the future
But authorities in the UK say they have ‘genuine concern’ about sources being exposed if classified parts of the wiretap request were made public.
Other sources also said MI6 was concerned the publication of the documents would set a ‘dangerous precedent’ for the release of top secret information, and may dissuade future sources from coming forward.
A US based intelligence source said: ‘I think that stuff is going to implicate MI5 and MI6 in a bunch of activities they don’t want to be implicated in, along with FBI, counter-terrorism and the CIA.’
The documents in question concern an FBI request to wiretap former Trump policy adviser Carter Page, submitted a month before the Presidential election in 2016.
Documents show the FBI suspected Page of being lured in by Russian intelligence, and the bureau was given leave to place him under intense surveillance for several months.
Leading Republicans have claimed the operation shows FBI-bias against conservative politicians and Trump has already published a portion of the top secret files.
The documents are of direct relevance to the probe by former FBI director Robert Mueller who is investigating alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election
Memos describing alleged ties between Trump and Russia compiled by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele (pictured) are contained in the papers
Earlier this month, Trump suggested he would be willing to release 21 more pages from one of the applications – a move which sparked widespread outrage in British intelligence communities.
Memos describing alleged ties between Trump and Russia compiled by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele are contained in the papers, which may form part of the reason for Britain’s concern.
Steele is most notable for authoring a dossier which claims Russia collected a file of compromising information on Trump.
‘It boils down to the exposure of people’, said one US intelligence official, adding: ‘We don’t want to reveal sources and methods.’
The current row risks inflaming UK-US tensions at a time when Britain wants to deepen ties with America as it leaves the European Union.