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The British Putin supporter who spread Trump propaganda online

Screengrab from patriotnewsagency.com

A British man with ties to far-right groups in Britain and Russia spread fake news articles online with the aim of getting Donald Trump elected, US media reported Sunday.

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James Dowson, a 52-year-old British political activist, used sites like the Patriot News Agency to disseminate fake articles that linked Hillary Clinton to fabricated conspiracy theories dealing with Satanism and pedophilia, the New York Times said. Dowson’s website has also shown support for France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen ahead of next year’s presidential election.

The Patriot News Agency was launched in Britain in July 2016, just a few months before the US elections, and its stories were shared hundreds of thousands of times, the Times said.

Dowson has been cheerleading Russia’s far right since at least March 2015, when he was a speaker at the inaugural International Russian Conservative Forum in St. Petersburg. Dowson praised Putin at the event, where he also described American President Barack Obama and the United States itself as “feminised men”.

“The West has been polluted by the virus of decadence, of liberalism, of homosexuality, of the destruction of the family,” the UK’s Financial Times has reported Dowson as saying during his speech.

Before getting involved in American politics, Dowson was active in Christian nationalist movements in the UK. He participated in anti-abortion campaigns and became a leading figure in the far-right British National Party, rising through the ranks to become its financial controller. Dowson helped found the anti-immigrant group Britain First in 2011, but left when the group began launching “invasions” of mosques.

Dowson was a Brexit supporter, and in an email to the New York Times described both Britain’s exit from the European Union and Trump’s win as triumphs for the right: “Bottom line is: BREXIT, TRUMP and much more to follow.”

>> Read more on FRANCE24.com: "Le Pen, Farage, Trump: Why the West's right wing loves Vladimir Putin"

Dowson now seems to be using his fake news techniques to try to influence politics in Eastern Europe. He works with Knights Templar International, a militant religious group that has supported anti-migrant militias in Bulgaria and Hungary.

Dowson hinted that he may employ similar propaganda strategies ahead of next year’s French presidential election, which will almost certainly feature Marine Le Pen   another far-right Putin fan. Headlines on the Patriot News Agency called Le Pen “France’s female Trump” and described her growing popularity with the phrase “#TrumpEffect”.

“We have to use popular culture to reach into the living rooms of the youth of America, of Britain, France, Germany, and bring them in,” Dowson said in an email to the New York Times. “Then we can get them the message.”

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