Twelve Russian intelligence officers have been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s team for their involvement in the hacking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails ahead of the 2016 presidential election, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced on Friday.
Rosenstein, speaking at the RFK Main Justice Building in Washington D.C., said the 12 intelligence officers were charged with conspiring to hack into computers, with the intent of releasing documents to interfere in the election.
The hackers allegedly used spearphishing techniques—sending misleading emails to get passwords—and installed “malicious software” to get the hacked email. The Russians also created “fictitious” accounts, namely DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, to release the emails.
The attempts to hack email accounts of Hillary Clinton’s campaign began in “at least” March 2016, according to the indictment, and in April 2016 they were successful in hacking the computer networks of the DNC and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
“The object of the conspiracy was to hack into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the indictment reads.
In February Mueller’s team indicted 13 Russian nationals and three entities connected to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian “troll farm” that spread disinformation about the 2016 election on social media.
The indictment made clear that the efforts of the IRA was to “sow discord” among voters and “supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump.”