Alex Salmond’s RT chat show could create the impression the former first minister and the SNP do “not understand the difference between good and evil”, the Foreign Secretary has claimed.
Jeremy Hunt said this was the “risk” from Mr Salmond broadcasting on the Kremlin-backed channel, which was formerly known as Russia Today.
The former SNP leader - who is no longer a member of the party - turned to broadcasting after losing his seat in the Commons in the 2017 election.
The Alex Salmond Show has been broadcasting on RT since November that year.
The Foreign Secretary, speaking about the risks cyber attacks can pose to democracies during a visit to Glasgow, was asked if Mr Salmond’s TV show was a threat to British security.
Scottish Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins told Mr Hunt: “Alex Salmond isn’t just on Russia Today, he has a chat show on Russia Today. Is that a risk?
“Is his flirtation, is the SNP’s flirtation with Russia Today a risk to British national security or is it just a risk to the SNP’s credibility?”
Mr Hunt said: “It’s more about the SNP credibility when they do these kind of things and I think is the same risk that Jeremy Corbyn runs with the Labour Party in the UK.
“Corbyn has an approach that essentially he will support anyone who shares his anti-western world view.
“Therefore, by definition, if you are anti-America, anti-Israel, anti the west, then he will support you.
“That is why he refused to condemn Russia over the novichok attacks in Salisbury.
“And I think Alex Salmond runs exactly the same risk of fundamentally showing people that the SNP doesn’t understand the difference between good and evil, and doesn’t understand that for all its fault the international order that we have at the moment has done more to promote freedom and democracy than any international order we have had in history.”
Mr Salmond said in response: “Jeremy Hunt knows as much about the international order as he did about the English health service when he provoked the first doctors’ strike for 40 years.
“In less than a year as Foreign Secretary he has compared the EU to the old Soviet Union, described non-aligned Slovenia as a former vassal state and defended the Saudi bombing of South Yemen.
“His hapless meanderings endanger UK national security every time he opens his mouth, while his track record to date makes his predecessor Boris Johnson look like a competent diplomat.”
Mr Hunt was speaking at Glasgow University just 24 hours after classes there were halted and buildings evacuated after a suspect package was discovered in a mailroom.
A controlled explosion was carried out, with Police Scotland later confirming the parcel was believed to be linked to three explosive devices sent to transport hubs in London on Tuesday.
Mr Hunt said ministers were “very concerned about these recent packages”, although he said it was too early to “speculate as to what the causes may be”.
He stressed terrorists who may have previously used “traditional methods” to highlight their causes may now “look at different ways to destabilise our democracies”.
Asked directly if the security services were investigating to see if there was any link between his speech at the university on Thursday and the package found on Wednesday, the Foreign Secretary said he could not comment on “any ongoing security investigations”.
He was questioned after speaking out about the “profoundly disturbing” implications of Russian attempts to “subvert democracy”.
The UK blamed Russia’s GRU intelligence agency for the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails in the run-up to the US elections in 2016.
While he stressed there had so far been “no successful interference in UK elections or referenda”, Mr Hunt said the authorities must remain vigilant.
“In the cyber age, an authoritarian regime armed with nothing more ambitious than a laptop computer could try to manipulate our democracy,” he told the audience.
“We need a strategy that deters hostile states from intervening in free elections in the first place, a new doctrine of deterrence against cyber attacks in our democracies.”