1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Boris Johnson set to overhaul Britain's treason laws: report

Srinivas Mazumdaru
July 26, 2020

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seeking to change the country's treason laws, reported the Mail on Sunday newspaper. Rising tensions with Moscow are thought to be behind the biggest shakeup since 1695.

Boris Johnson set to overhaul Britain's treason laws: report
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/S. Dawson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to overhaul the United Kingdom's treason laws, the Mail on Sunday newspaper reported. The newspaper described the overhaul as the biggest shakeup of the laws on treachery against the state since 1695, saying it was being done to counter the threat posed by Russia and China.  

The overhaul will see a new Treason Act and a new Espionage Act for tracking foreign agents and influencers, as well as a rewriting of the Official Secrets Act to make it suitable for the digital era, the newspaper reported.

The PM wants the new measures on the statute books "within months rather than years," the paper said, citing unnamed Downing Street sources.

Read more: From Russia with love: How damaging is the 'Russia Report' for the UK?

Tensions between London and Moscow have been high in recent weeks, as the UK has targeted Russians with new sanctions, accused Russian agents of trying to meddle in last year's election and said Moscow has tried to hack into vaccine research. On Thursday, Britain said it was concerned about a Russian satellite test that involved the launch of a projectile with the "characteristics of a weapon."

Boosting space capabilities

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said that London will boost its ability to handle threats posed by Russia and China in space.

"This week we have been reminded of the threat Russia poses to our national security with the provocative test of a weapon-like projectile from a satellite threatening the peaceful use of space," Wallace wrote, adding that China also posed a threat.

Read more: Why are Russia and the West allowed to spy on each other?

"China, too, is developing offensive space weapons and both nations are upgrading their capabilities. Such behavior only underlines the importance of the review the government is currently conducting into our foreign, security, defense and development policy — the deepest and most radical since the end of the Cold War," he added.