(CNSNews.com) - The Justice Department announced Friday the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers suspected of trying to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
“There is no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said when announcing the indictment.
“All twelve defendants are members of the GRU, a Russian Federation intelligence agency within the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian military. These GRU officers, 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, and released that information on the internet under the names ‘DCLeaks’ and ‘Guccifer 2.0’ and through another entity,” the DOJ stated in a press release.
“Eleven of the defendants are charged with conspiring to hack into computers, steal documents, and release documents in an effort to interfere with the election. One of those defendants, and a twelfth Russian officer, are charged with conspiring to infiltrate computers of organizations responsible for administering elections,” Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein said Friday.
According to Rosenstein, the Russian defendants worked for two units of the GRU. One unit “worked to steal information, while another unit worked to disseminate stolen information,” he said.
“The defendants used two techniques to steal information. First, they used a scam known as ‘spearphishing,’ which involves sending misleading email messages and tricking users into disclosing their passwords and security information. Second, the defendants hacked into computer networks and installed malicious software that allowed them to spy on users and capture keystrokes, take screenshots, and exfiltrate data,” Rosenstein said.
They also used false identities while using a network of computers from around the world, including inside the U.S., which were “paid for with cryptocurrency through mining bitcoin and other means intended to obscure the origin of the funds.”
“This funding structure supported their efforts to buy key accounts, servers, and domains. For example, the same bitcoin mining operation that funded the registration payment for DCLeaks.com also funded the servers and domains used in the spearphishing campaign,” the DOJ stated.
Rosenstein said the DOJ and its law enforcement partners are “resolute in its commitment to locate, identify and seek to bring to justice anyone who interferes with American elections.”
“Free and fair elections 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. So long as we are united in our commitment to the shared values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed,” he saidRosenstein said he briefed President Donald Trump about the allegations earlier this week, and he’s fully aware of the actions taken by the DOJ on Friday. He also warned against “thinking politically as Republicans or Democrats.”
“In my remarks, I have not identified the victims. When we confront foreign interference in American elections, it is important for us to avoid thinking politically as Republicans or Democrats and instead to think patriotically as Americans. Our response must not depend on who was victimized,” Rosenstein said.
Rosenstein said there’s no allegation that any U.S. citizen committed a crime. “There is no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters pointed out that according to Rosenstein, “There is no allegation in this indictment that Americans knew that they were corresponding with Russians.”
Also, “There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime,” and “There is no allegation that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result,” she said.
“Today’s charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result. This is consistent with what we have been saying all along,” Walters said in a statement Friday.