Mueller indicts 12 Russians for hacking in the 2016 presidential campaign

Alex Wong  Getty Images North America

The Justice Department charged 12 Russian intelligence officers on Friday with a litany of alleged offenses related to Russia's hacking of the Democratic National Committee's emails, state election systems and other targets in 2016.

The 12 were members of Russian military intelligence, known as the GRU, and are accused of engaging in a sustained effort to hack the computer networks of Democratic organisations and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) released an indictment on July 13 charging twelve Russian nationals with committing federal crimes - funded by cryptocurrencies - with the aim of "interfering" in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

Rosenstein, who laid out the allegations at a news conference that began while Trump was meeting with Queen Elizabeth in London, said he had briefed Trump earlier in the week and that the president was "fully aware" of the charges in the indictment.

The announcement came just before President Donald Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Mr. Rosenstein said the timing was the result of "the collection of facts, evidence of law".

Because Mueller has maintained public silence on his investigation, Rosenstein has made the few public pronouncements on the probe outside of legal documents and courtroom proceedings.

"The conspirators corresponded with several Americans through the internet". But that indictment had not directly tied the meddling effort to Russia's government.

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The former Trump campaign adviser said during an interview last month with Hill.TV's "Rising" program that it's possible that he'll be indicted in Mueller's probe.

The indictment also appears to allude to Florida political operative Aaron Nevins, who reached out to Guccifer and asked for "any Florida based information", according to a Wall Street Journal report previous year. The investigation, which is being carried out by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, has already indicted 20 people and three companies.

John Podesta, the former chair of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign whose emails were among those hacked and leaked, welcomed the indictments as if they contradicted President Donald Trump's claims about a "witch hunt".

Americans were in contact with the operatives, Mr. Rosenstein said, but the indictment doesn't allege any of them knew they were communicating with Russians attempting to influence the election.

Rosenstein said the team used spearphishing to trick users into revealing login information and also hacked into computer networks, where they installed spyware.

"There was one unit that engaged in active cyber operations by stealing information and a different unit responsible for disseminating the stolen information", Rosenstein said, reports the Washington Post.

The defendants are named in the indictment as Viktor Netyksho, Boris Antonov, Dmitry Badin, Ivan Yermakov, Aleksey Lukashev, Sergey Morgachev, Nikolay Kozachek, Pavel Yershov, Artem Malyshev, Aleksandr Osadchuk and Aleksey Potemkin.

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