The indictment of 12 Russians for allegedly hacking the Democratic Party in 2016 appear to be politically motivated, with the goal of spoiling the upcoming Helsinki summit, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“It is regrettable that spreading false information has become the norm in Washington, and [the] indictments are based on openly political motives,” the ministry said on Friday, responding to the announcement by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “The question is for how long will they continue to flog this shameful comedy that disgraces the US.”
Claiming that the people indicted are intelligence officers and hackers does not make them either, the ministry said, adding that the allegation of illegal entry into Democratic Party computers is not backed by any factual evidence.
“The goal of this ‘information attack’ is obviously to spoil the atmosphere prior to the Russian-American summit,” the ministry said in a statement, referring to the forthcoming meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US leader Donald Trump. “The influential political forces in the US, that are opposed to the normalization of relations between our countries and have spread open slander for the past two years, are desperately trying to make the best use of yet another fake,” it added.
The ministry also warned that “sooner or later, the initiators of these lies will have to answer for the damage they have done to American democracy, undermining trust in it for their own personal gains.”
Earlier on Friday, the US Department of Justice announced that 12 people, whom it identified as “Russian intelligence officers,” had been indicted for hacking the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign. At the same time, it admitted that the alleged hacking attack in fact did not eventually affect any votes.
The suspects, named as members of the GRU (Russian military intelligence), are alleged to have hacked into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election. Left out from the indictment is how the federal investigators obtained any evidence of this, given that the FBI never got access to the DNC servers.
The announcement comes just days before the summit between Trump and his Russian counterpart Putin in Finland on Monday. Ahead of the meeting, which has already provoked concerns among US, UK and Germany’s officials, Trump called Putin a “competitor.” He also said during a joint press conference with the British Prime Minister Theresa May that his administration was “tougher on Russia than anybody.”
At the same time, he also admitted that getting along with Moscow would actually still be “a good thing.” Moscow said it sees the US as “partners” and hopes to use the summit to improve bilateral relations with Washington.
Mueller was appointed special counsel in May last year, to investigate allegations of Trump’s collusion with Russia during the 2016 US presidential election. In February, his prosecutors indicted 13 Russian nationals associated with the Internet Research Agency and Concord Management, accusing them of conducting “information warfare” against the US on social media. Attorneys for Concord challenged the charges in US court, however, saying they amounted to a “make-believe crime” and that Mueller was trying to “justify his own existence” and “indict a Russian ‒ any Russian” for political reasons.
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