Speed Reads

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Is Russia trying to hack the Oscars?

An Oscar-nominated filmmaker is sounding the alarm over his suspicions that Moscow "wants to hack the Oscars like they hacked the U.S. election," The Guardian reports.

Feras Fayyad, the documentary filmmaker behind Last Men in Aleppo, is at the center of what appears to be an aggressive smear campaign, with Russia's state news agency, Sputnik, slamming his movie as a "propaganda piece funded by western governments" and an "al Qaeda promotional film." Last Men in Aleppo, which follows White Helmets volunteers in the Syrian civil war, won the 2017 Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize and was described by The Village Voice as having "unflinching truth and emotion and outrage."

The White Helmets notably helped expose the Syrian regime's illegal use of chemical weapons. The humanitarian aide group has previously drawn the attention of Russian trolls; Moscow has remained Damascus' closest and most important ally.

Fayyad, who is Syrian, stressed to The Guardian that he is now fearful of winning an Oscar because of "what we might go through," he said. Fayyad was previously held and tortured for months by the Syrian regime, which accused him of being a Western spy.

Fellow documentarian Chris Hegedus slammed the smear campaign against Fayyad, which stretches to Twitter and Facebook, and said the attention directed at Last Men in Aleppo "[makes] us see how Russia and others are meddling beyond social media and political elections."