The UK ex-spy said to be behind accusations of Russian hacking in favour of Donald Trump in the US is “some runaway crook from the MI6”, Russia’s foreign minister says.
Sergei Lavrov said Russia did not have to prove it was not behind the hacking.
Ex-UK spy Christopher Steele is said to have prepared memos published last week alleging Mr Trump’s election team colluded with Russia which also had salacious videos of his private life.
Mr Trump says the claims are “fake”.
Mr Steele, who runs a London-based intelligence firm, was highly regarded by his bosses when he worked for the British foreign spy agency MI6, sources have told the BBC.
He has been widely named as the author of a series of memos – which have been published as a dossier in some US media.
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The allegations claim Russia has damaging information about the US president-elect’s business interests, and salacious video evidence of his private life, including claims of using prostitutes at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow.
US intelligence agencies considered the claims relevant enough to brief both Mr Trump and President Barack Obama.
Mr Trump accused US intelligence of leaking the content from a classified briefing – a claim denied by James Clapper, director of National Intelligence.
Asked by a German journalist during a news conference in Moscow, the Russian foreign minister said he was not going to prove why the allegations were “not true”.
“I thought that the presumption of innocence was in force in Germany as in other countries. So you prove it,” Mr Lavrov said.
“These are convulsions of those who realise that their time is running out,” Mr Lavrov said. “That is why various fakes are being fabricated.”
The hacking scandal dominated the US election campaign, with US spy agencies concluding Russia was behind the hacking and release of Democratic Party emails intended to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton.
Russia has consistently denied it.