A federal grand jury has indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential elections, during which they boosted the candidacy of Donald Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office said Friday.
The indictment says that a Russian organization called the Internet Research Agency sought to wage “information warfare” against the United States by using fictitious American personas and social media platforms and other Internet-based media.
While that effort was launched in 2014, by early to mid-2016 the defendants were “supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump … and disparaging Hillary Clinton,” the eight-count indictment charges.
As part of those efforts, the defendants also encouraged minority groups to either not vote in the election or to vote for a third-party candidate. Both actions would have hurt Clinton, who received significant support from minority voters.
And after the election of Trump as president in November 2016, the defendants used fake personas to organize and coordinate political rallies in support of Trump, while also doing the same to create rallies “protesting the results” of the election, the indictment said.
On one day, Nov. 12, 2016, the defendants organized a rally in New York to “show your support for President-elect Donald Trump” while at the same time organizing a “Trump is NOT my president rally” that also was held in New York.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the defendants created hundreds of accounts using fake personas on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to advance their scheme.
The accused also allegedly used a “computer infrastructure, based partly in the United States, to hide the Russian origin of their activities and to avoid detection” by US authorities, the indictment said.
Rosenstein said there is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the scheme, nor is there any allegation that the scheme affected the outcome of the election.
The indictment came four days after an American named Richard Pinedo pleaded guilty to using identities stolen from U.S. citizens to bypass the security systems of online payments companies. Pinedo also bought and sold bank account numbers over the Internet using stolen identities.
SOURCE: Dan Mangan | Mike Calia