Dirty Dozen: 12 Russians Indicted for US Election Meddling

The US justice department has indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking Democratic officials in the 2016 election.

In a statement Friday by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the dozen accused used spear phishing emails and malicious software in the cyber-attacks.

This comes as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into alleged Russia meddling in the 2016 election has indicted 20 people and three companies.

Mr Rosenstein said the defendants corresponded with several Americans during the alleged conspiracy, but added there is no allegation that any US citizen committed a crime.

He said they also “conspired to hack into the computers of state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and US companies that supplied software and other technology related to the administration of elections to steal voter data stored on those computers”.

He added that the defendants “covertly monitored the computers, implanted hundreds of files containing malicious computer code, and stole emails and other documents.”

The indictment states the conspirators searched a campaign committee computer specifically for terms including “Hillary”, “Cruz”, “Trump” and “Benghazi Investigations”.

It added that an unnamed US congressional candidate in 2016 requested stolen documents from the Russians posing as Guccifer 2.0 – who then “sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent”.

Mr Rosenstein also stated that the hackers were able to steal information on 500,000 voters from a state election board website.

The justice department’s indictment comes as U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

Trump, briefing newsmen during a NATO summit in Brussels, said he’d bring up the election meddling with Putin, although he has always dismissed it as a ‘witch-hunt’.

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