USA indicts 12 Russian intel officers ahead of Trump-Putin meeting

Frederick Owens
July 14, 2018

The indictment charges 12 Russians of hacking into computers, stealing documents, and then releasing those documents with "the intent to interfere with the election", Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein detailed the new charges during a press conference.

"The internet allows foreign adversaries to attack Americans in new and unexpected ways", Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein said. Rosenstein noted that the Russians tried to paint a false cover for Guccifer 2.0 as Romanian.

Hackers also breached a software vendor used to verify voter registration information.

The charges come just days before President Donald Trump is set to meet with Russia's President Vladimir Putin and on the same day that Trump, on a trip to the United Kingdom, again called the investigation a "witch hunt".

The hackers also engaged in a powerful social media campaign to influence public opinion in the election.

In August 2016, the indictment says, "the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent a reporter stolen documents pertaining to the Black Lives Matter movement, The reporter responded by discussing when to release the documents and offering to write an article about their release".

It accuses them of covertly monitoring the computers of dozens of Democratic officials and volunteers, implanting malicious computer code known as malware and using spear phishing emails to gain control of the accounts of people associated with the Clinton campaign.

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The Mueller's team appeared increasingly focused on whether any associates of Trump knew that the Russian government had hacked emails from the DNC and Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta and provided them to Wikileaks during the last presidential election, according to those sources. "The unmistakable conclusion is that Bob Mueller wanted to show that this is not a debatable point", Christie said. The current indictment did not allege that any Americans committed crimes related to the Russian hacking, Rosenstein announced.

Thirty-two people have so far been indicted as part of the probe into election interference, which started months after Trump's inauguration in January 2017 and repeatedly described by the president as a "witch-hunt".

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".

Mueller charged that the goal of the conspiracy was "to hack into the computers of US persons and entities involved in the 2016 USA presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage the release of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 USA presidential election". "So he needs to understand what evidence we have of foreign election interference".

The charges were announced as Mr Trump met the Queen at Windsor Castle.

Americans were not charged on Friday, nor were they named in the indictment.

Costello denied Friday that he is the congressional candidate referred to in the indictment and tweeted that he has asked the Justice Department to "clarify if the candidate was ever elected".

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