DOJ charges 12 Russian intel officers for election hacking

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Twelve Russian intelligence officers were indicted on charges they hacked into Democratic email accounts during the 2016 USA presidential election and released stolen information in the months before Americans headed to the polls, the Justice Department said Friday.

In announcing the indictment Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that although Americans corresponded with the indicted Russians, in this case, no Americans are accused of having knowingly conspired with Russian intelligence officers.

Officers of Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU, "in their official capacities engaged in a sustained effort to hack into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton", a Justice Department news release said.

Mr. Mueller has previously indicted Russian hackers with ties to the Kremlin, but Friday's charges are the first against government intelligence agents.

CNN's Russia investigation reporter Marshall Cohen said, by CNN's count, that Mueller has filed "191 criminal charges against 35 defendants", including "112 new charges brought today against a dozen Russian operatives for hacking".

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The indictment was announced at nearly exactly the moment that Trump rolled into the quadrangle of Windsor Castle to meet the awaiting Queen Elizabeth II in the symbolic highpoint of his visit to Britain. They used the Malaysian server to log into the Twitter account of the online hacker persona Guccifer 2.0, and the same server was used to register websites used for hacking the Democratic committees, according to the indictment.

Evidence of this includes the mention of state election boards and other non-federal institutions in the document, and its scope, which in essence is a legal attempt to hold the Russian state accountable for wide-ranging intelligence activities.

Cat and mouse: Though the indictment says they used hundreds of different e-mail accounts with fake names to handle Bitcoin payments and cover their tracks, investigators linked messages from "several dedicated email accounts" to corresponding transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain.

The attempt to penetrate Clinton's campaign began March 10, 2016, and hit a significant success on March 19 when the Russian intelligence officers busted open the email account of John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman, an AP investigation previous year found. "The Russian state has never interfered and has no intention of interfering in the USA elections", Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said Friday. But with Mueller still investigating, it's not known whether further indictments are taking shape or will.

Hours before the Justice Department announcement, Trump complained anew that the special counsel's investigation is complicating his efforts to forge a better working relationship with Russian Federation. Stone made statements in August of 2016 which political opponents have argued indicated he knew that Wikileaks was going to leak damaging information on Clinton before it was released. Indeed, an indictment that directly points to Russian President Vladimir Putin makes it much more hard for critics to dismiss Russia's culpability in election hacking as unproven. Was the plan to approach Team Trump with the material if they succeeded in uncovering it? "But I love getting along with Russian Federation and China and other countries".

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