12 Russian officers indicted on charges tied to US election meddling

WASHINGTON, A grand jury Friday indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges of conspiring to hack Democrats during the 2016 US presidential campaign.

The 12 were members of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate, known as the GRU, and are accused of engaging in a sustained effort to hack the computer networks of Democratic organizations and the Hillary Clinton campaign, according to the indictment, which was returned by a grand jury that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been using in his ongoing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 US elections.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Mueller investigation, detailed the charges at a press conference. Rosenstein said he briefed President Donald Trump earlier this week on the charges — just days before Trump is scheduled to meet in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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

The hackers created false online personas — DC Leaks and Guccifer 2.0 — in an effort to disguise the Russian origins of their work, Rosenstein said.

While the hackers did interact with some Americans during their efforts, those people have not been charged with a crime, he said.

“There’s no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime. There’s no allegation that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result,” Rosenstein said. “The goal of the conspirators was to have an impact on the election. What impact they may have had is a matter of speculation. That’s not our responsibility.” Mueller and his team have been working since May 2017 to determine if any Trump associates conspired with Russia to interfere in the election.

The investigation has resulted in charges against 20 people on crimes ranging from money laundering to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, 14 of those charged earlier are Russians, and they who are unlikely to ever face trial in the US.

The Mueller investigation has come under months of attack from Trump and his Republican congressional supporters, who call it a “witch hunt” that is politically motivated and intended to harm Trump.

Source: Kuwait News Agency