MOSCOW (dpa-AFX) - Days before President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, special counsel Robert Mueller has obtained an indictment against 12 Russian intelligence officers for crimes intended to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
Rosenstein said eleven of the defendants were charged with conspiring to hack into computers, steal documents, and release documents in an effort to interfere with the election.
One of those defendants and a twelfth Russian officer were also charged with conspiring to infiltrate computers of organizations responsible for administering elections.
The Justice Department said all twelve defendants are members of the GRU, a Russian intelligence agency within the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian military.
The Russians allegedly engaged in a sustained effort to hack into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.
The information obtained was subsequently released on the internet under the fictitious online personas 'DCLeaks' and 'Guccifer 2.0.'
'In addition to releasing documents directly to the public, the defendants transferred stolen documents to another organization, not named in the indictment, and discussed timing the release of the documents in an attempt to enhance the impact on the election,' Rosenstein said.
'The conspirators corresponded with several Americans through the internet,' he added but noted, 'There is no allegation in the indictment that the Americans knew they were communicating with Russian intelligence officers.'
Russian GRU officers also allegedly hacked the website of a state election board and stole information about 500,000 voters.
'There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime,' Rosenstein said. 'There is no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result.'
The announcement of the indictment comes just three days before Trump is scheduled to meet with Putin for a highly anticipated summit in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday.
Trump has repeatedly described Mueller's investigation as a 'witch hunt' and noted in a post on Twitter last month that the Russian government has continually denied meddling in the election.
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