The US Justice Department has indicted 12 Russians for hacking into the Democratic Party’s email in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election.
They were indicted by the probe headed by Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel investigating allegations of meddling into the polls.
All the accused persons are members of the GRU, a Russian Federation intelligence agency within the main intelligence directorate of the Russian military.
The alleged conspirators hacked into the computer network of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, said the dozen accused used spear phishing emails and malicious software in the cyber-attacks.
He said: “The defendants covertly monitored the computers, implanted hundreds of files containing malicious computer code, and stole emails and other documents.”
The indictment states that the conspirators searched a campaign committee computer specifically for terms including “Hillary”, “Cruz”, “Trump” and “Benghazi Investigations”.
The conspirators, according to the Deputy AG, created fictitious online personas, including “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0”.
They allegedly used these identities to release thousands of stolen emails and other documents beginning in June 2016.
He said: “We know that the goal of the conspirators was to have an impact on the election.
“What impact they may have had, what their motivation may have been independently of what’s required to prove this offence, is a matter of speculation. That’s not our responsibility.”
Rosenstein said he had briefed President Donald Trump about the indictments earlier in the week.
The indictment was made public three days before President Trump would meet with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, for a highly tense and controversial summit in Helsinki, Finland.
The US President has repeatedly dismissed the investigation, describing it as a “witch hunt.”