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AFP
July 14, 2018
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12 Russian officers indicted for hacking US Democrats

World

AFP
July 14, 2018

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WASHINGTON: Twelve Russian intelligence officers have been indicted by a grand jury for hacking Democratic Party emails ahead of the 2016 US presidential election, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced on Friday.

The indictment was drawn up by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who is looking into Russian interference in the November 2016 vote.The charges were filed by the special counsel Robert Mueller in Washington. They were announced as Donald Trump met the Queen in England and prepared to meet Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, next week. Rosenstein said he had briefed Trump on the developments.

“The internet allows foreign adversaries to attack America in new and unexpected ways,” said Rosenstein. Lamenting what he called “partisan warfare” in the US around the Russia inquiry, he said: “The blame for election interference belongs to the criminals who committed election interference.”

Rosenstein said those charged were operatives of the GRU, a Russian military intelligence agency. He said they had “corresponded with several Americans through the internet” but that no American was accused of knowingly communicating with Russian intelligence.

Thousands of emails taken from the accounts of staff at the the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, were published by outlets including WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. The leaks threw the Democratic party into turmoil and prompted the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chairwoman, on the eve of the convention to nominate Clinton as its presidential nominee last July.

US intelligence agencies concluded that the accounts were hacked as part of a wide-ranging operation ordered by Putin to damage Clinton’s bid for the presidency and assist Trump’s campaign. The indicted Russians were on Friday also accused of hacking into the computer systems of American state election authorities and of companies that produced software used by states for running elections.

They used techniques including “spearphishing” and spying software, before publishing the emails through well-known online accounts including Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks, which purported to be independent American and Romanian hackers. Rosenstein said both personas were in fact operated by the GRU.

In February this year, Mueller’s team unveiled criminal charges against 13 Russians and three Russian companies for interfering in the presidential campaign, using social media and coordinating with low-level Trump campaign activists.

Rosenstein said at the time that the Russians had waged “information warfare” against the US during the 2016 campaign, with the aim of “spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general”.

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