The Russia connection12 Russian intelligence operatives criminally charged for hacking, leaking DNC emails in 2016

The U.S. Justice Department today (Friday) has criminally charged twelve Russian intelligence officers for the hacking and leaking emails of senior Democratic Party officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. The hacking and leaking of the emails were part of a broad and effective Kremlin effort to help Donald Trump win the November 2016 election. The 11-count indictment spells out in granular detail a carefully planned and executed attack on the information of Democrats, planting hundreds of malware files on Democrats’ computer systems, stealing information, and then laundering the pilfered material through personas and others to try to influence voters’ opinions. The twelve Russian intelligence operatives indicted on Friday join thirteen other Russian individuals and three Russian companies who, in February, were criminally charged by Mueller’s team for interfering in the presidential campaign, using social , and coordinating with low-level Trump campaign activists.

The U.S. Justice Department today (Friday) has criminally charged twelve Russian intelligence officers for the hacking and leaking emails of senior Democratic Party officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The hacking and leaking of the emails were part of a broad and effective Kremlin effort to help Donald Trump win the November 2016 election.

Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, announced in a press conference in Washington, D.C., that the twelve Russian intelligence operatives were indicted as part of the ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in U.S. politics.

The charges were filed by the special counsel Robert Mueller.

The Washington Post reports that the 11-count indictment spells out in granular detail a carefully planned and executed attack on the information security of Democrats, planting hundreds of malware files on Democrats’ computer systems, stealing information, and then laundering the pilfered material through fake personas and others to try to influence voters’ opinions.

Rosenstein said the suspects worked to “hack into computers, steal documents, and release those documents with the intent to interfere with the election.”

“The internet allows foreign adversaries to attack America in new and unexpected ways,” said Rosenstein. Complaining about what he called “partisan warfare” in the United States over the inquiry into Russia’s meddling, he said: “The blame for election interference belongs to the criminals who committed election interference.”

“Free and fair are hard-fought and contentious, and there will always be adversaries who work to exacerbate domestic differences and try to confuse, divide and conquer us,” Rosenstein said in a statement. “So long as we are united in our commitment to the shared values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed.”

Rosenstein said the twelve Russian government operatives charged were officers of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency. He said they had “corresponded with several 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 Democratic National Committee (DNC) and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, were published by outlets including WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

The Russian operatives, operating in coordination with Wikileaks, were successful in their effort to throw the Democratic party into turmoil, forcing Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chairwoman, to resign on the eve of the July convention which nominated Clinton as the party’s presidential nominee.

The U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously concluded that the DNC 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.

DOJ on Friday also accused the indicted Russian government operatives of hacking into the computer systems of several American state election authorities and of companies that produced software used by states for running elections.

The Russia intelligence operatives used different techniques, including “spearphishing” and spying software, before publishing the emails through well-known online accounts including Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks, two Russian cut-outs who described themselves as “independent” American and Romanian hackers.

Rosenstein said both personas were in fact operated by the GRU.

The twelve Russian intelligence operatives indicted on Friday join thirteen other Russian individuals and three Russian companies who, in February, were criminally charged by Mueller’s team for interfering in the presidential campaign, using social media, and coordinating with low-level Trump campaign activists.

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

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