The week closes with the indictment for twelve Russian intelligence officers by a US grand jury. The charges were formulated just three days before President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Vladimir Putin.
The special Counsel Robert Mueller, who indicted on February 13 Russians for a massive operation aimed to influence the 2016 Presidential election, now charged 12 Russian intelligence officers working under the GRU of carrying out “large-scale cyber operations” to steal Democratic Party documents and emails.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment at a press conference in Washington.
“there’s no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime.” said Rosenstein. “the conspirators corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the internet.”
However, “there’s no allegation in this indictment that the Americans knew they were corresponding with Russian intelligence officers,”
During the news conference, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein described the technical details of the operations conducted by the units of Russia’s GRU intelligence agency. The cyberspies stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, then leaked them in ways meant to influence the perception of Americans about the Presidential election.
Rosenstein reported a second operation in which the officers targeted the election infrastructure and local election officials. The Russian intelligence set up servers in the U.S. and Malaysia under fake names to run their operations, the agents used payment with cryptocurrency that had been “mined” under their direction.
“The fine details of Russian intelligence operations — the names of officers, the buildings where they worked and the computers they used to run phishing operations and make payments — suggest that prosecutors had an inside view aided by their own or another government’s intelligence apparatus.” reads an article published by Bloomberg.
Rosenstein also remarked that “there’s no allegation that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result.”
Rosenstein also announced that Trump was informed about the indictment before the announcement and that the timing was determined by “the facts, the evidence, and the law.”
The Deputy Attorney General, confirmed that 11 of the Russians indicted were charged with “conspiring to hack into computers, steal documents, and release those documents with the intent to interfere in the election.”
“One of those defendants and a 12th Russian are charged with conspiring to infiltrate computers of organizations involved in administering elections,” he added.
“The defendants accessed email accounts of volunteers and employees of a US presidential campaign, including the campaign chairman starting in March of 2016,”
“They also hacked into the computer networks of a congressional campaign committee and a national political committee.”
The minority at the US Government is pressing Trump to cancel the meeting with Putin because he intentionally interfered with the election to help Trump’s presidential campaign.
“These indictments are further proof of what everyone but the president seems to understand: President Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections to help President Trump win,” Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate minority leader said in a statement.
“President Trump should cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won’t interfere in future elections,”
Speaking on Friday, before the indictments were announced, Trump explained that he would ask Putin about the alleged interference of Russian intelligence in the Presidential election.
“I will absolutely, firmly ask the question, and hopefully we’ll have a good relationship with Russia,” Trump told a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Trump described the Mueller investigation as a “rigged witch hunt,” and added that he has been “tougher on Russia than anybody.”
“We have been extremely tough on Russia,”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 13, 2018
Trump evidently believes that the hostility against Russia is a severe interference with the relationship and the collaboration between the two states.
Russia denies any involvement in the elections, and the Kremlin expelled 60 intelligence officers from the Russian embassy in Washington in response to a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.
No Americans were charged Friday, but the indictment reports unidentified Americans were in contact with the Russian intelligence officers.
According to the indictment, there was at least a person close to the Trump campaign and a candidate for Congress that in contact the Russians officers.
(Security Affairs – Russian Intelligence, Presidential election)