The Justice Department yesterday announced indictments against 12 Russian nationals as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, accusing them of engaging in a “sustained effort” to hack Democrats’ emails and computer networks.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the dozen accused used spear phishing emails and malicious software.
He said the hackers also stole data on half a million voters from a state election board website.
All 12 defendants are members of the GRU, a Russian federation intelligence agency within the main intelligence directorate of the Russian military, who were acting in “their official capacities.”
The Justice Department says the hacking targeted Clinton’s campaign, Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, with the intention to “release that information on the internet under the names DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 and through another entity.”
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the indictment does not name any American citizen, but told reporters that defendants “corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the internet.
There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime,” Rosenstein said at a news conference.
The indictment was announced at almost exactly the moment that President Donald Trump rolled into the quadrangle of Windsor Castle to meet the awaiting Queen Elizabeth II in the symbolic highpoint of his visit to Britain.
The claims were “an old duck” and a “heap of conspiracy schemes”, said Moscow’s foreign ministry in a statement.
Friday’s indictment was the first by US officials to directly charge Russia’s government with meddling in the US vote two years ago.
Mr Rosenstein said the defendants corresponded with several Americans during the alleged conspiracy, but added there is no allegation that any US citizen committed a crime.
The deputy attorney general said the conspirators used fictitious online personas, including “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0”, to release thousands of stolen emails beginning in June 2016.
They also plotted to hack into the computers of state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and voter software, according to the indictment.
Mr Rosenstein said: “We know that the goal of the conspirators was to have an impact on the election.”