On July 13, 2018, Deputy Attorney of the United States announced that a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia return an indictment presented by the Special Counsel’s Office.
The indictment charges twelve Russian national for committing federal crimes that were intended to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. All of the defendants are members of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU), a Russian Federation intelligence agencies. In their official capacities, they worked for months started in March 2016 to hack into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, and released that information on the internet under the names of “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0” and through another entity.
Starting in March 2016, the Russian intelligence officials started spearphisphing volunteers and employees of the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, including the campaign’s chairman. They defendants were able to steal the usernames and passwords for numerous individuals and use the credentials to steal email content and hack into other computers. They also hacked into the computer networks of the DCCC and the DNC.
They defendants coordinated with other intelligence officials to release the stolen documents for the purpose of interfering with the 2016 presidential election. They registered the domain DCLeaks.com and later staged the release of thousands of stolen emails and documents through that website.
According to the indictment on July 27, 2016, Russian hackers tried for the first time to break into the servers of Mrs. Clinton’s personal offices. It was the same that then candidate Trump said “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope your’e able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing…I think you’ll probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Trump was referring to the emails Mrs. Clinton had deleted from the private account she had used when she was secretary of state.
The indictment states the hackers were communicating with “a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign” Two government officials identified the person as Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime adviser to Mr. Trump and the subject of close scrutiny by the FBI and the Special Counsel’s team.
To avoid detection, defendants used false identities, while using a network of computers located around the world, paid for with cryptocurrency. The funding structure supported their efforts to buy key accounts, servers, and domains.
The indictment alleges: a criminal conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S. through cyber operations by t he GRU that involved the staged release of stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 president election (Count 1); aggravated identity theft for using identification belonging to eight victims to further their computer fraud scheme (Counts 2-9); a conspiracy to launder money in which the defendants laundered the equivalent of more than $95,000 by transferring the money that they used to purchase servers and to fund other costs related to their hacking activities through cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin; and conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S. by trying to hack into the computers of state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and U.S. companies that supplied software and other technology related to the administration of elections.
There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity or knew they were communicating with Russian intelligence officers. However, the person who benefitted from the alleged crimes, had a one-on-one meeting on July 16, 2018 with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. The meeting occurred, notwithstanding the indictment and public warnings by Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, that “the digital infrastructure that services this country is literally under attack.“
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