Russians indicted over US election hack

Russians indicted over US election hack

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WASHINGTON: The US Department of Justice has charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democratic officials in the 2016 US elections.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the dozen accused used spear phishing emails and malicious software.

He said the hackers also stole data on 500,000 voters from a state election board website.

The indictment is part of the justice department inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the US vote two years ago.

The indictment says the named Russian intelligence officers began their cyber-attacks in March 2016 to hack the email accounts of volunteers and employees of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The charge sheet states the conspirators searched a campaign committee computer specifically for terms including “Hillary” and “Trump”.

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 from June 2016.

They also conspired 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.”

The deputy attorney general said all 12 of the defendants were military officers in the Russian intelligence service, the GRU.

The DNC leak showed that top Democrats preferred Mrs Clinton for the presidential nomination, which confirmed the worst fears among supporters of her liberal challenger, Bernie Sanders.

Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s emails were also hacked.

President Donald Trump, who is in the UK, was briefed about the indictments earlier in the week.

Mr Trump has repeatedly dismissed the investigation as a “witch hunt”.

During a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, Mr Trump said the Russia collusion allegations dogging his presidency were “pure stupidity”.

Next week he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Helsinki, Finland.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is looking into US intelligence findings that Russians conspired to tilt the election in Mr Trump’s favour, and whether any of his campaign aides colluded.

The investigation has already indicted 20 people – mostly Russian nationals – as well as three companies and four former Trump advisers.

None of the charges allege Trump advisers colluded with Russia to interfere with the presidential campaign.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser, have pleaded guilty to making false statements about their contacts with Russians.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were charged with money laundering relating to their political consultancy work in Ukraine.__BBC

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