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6 Russian military officers charged in vast hacking campaign

UPDATED: Mon., Oct. 19, 2020

By Eric Tucker Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Six current and former Russian military officers sought to disrupt through computer hacking the French election, the Winter Olympics and U.S. hospitals and businesses, according to a Justice Department indictment unsealed Monday that details destructive attacks on a broad range of political, financial and athletic targets.

The indictment accuses the defendants, all alleged officers in the Russian military agency known as the GRU, in destructive attacks on Ukraine’s power grid; in a hack-and-leak effort directed at the political party of French President Emmanuel Macron in the days leading up to the 2017 election; and to impede an investigation into the suspected nerve-agent poisoning of a former spy and his daughter.

The indictment does not charge the defendants in connection with interference in American elections, though the officers are part of the same military intelligence unit that prosecutors say interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election by hacking Democratic email accounts.

The 50-page indictment, filed in federal court in Pittsburgh, focuses instead on attacks that prosecutors said were aimed at promoting Russian’s own geopolitical interests. Those include cyberattacks that targeted the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, where Russian athletes were banned because of a state-sponsored doping effort.

“No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously and irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented collateral damage to pursue small tactical advantages as fits of spite,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official.

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