Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), The Hill reported.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment at a press conference in Washington, D.C.
"The indictment charges 12 Russian military officers by name for conspiring to interfere with the 2016 presidential election," said Rosenstein.
All 12 of the defendants are members of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency. Eleven are charged with conspiring to hack into networks used by the DNC as well as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
The twelfth individual is charged with conspiring to hack into systems used to administer elections, including hacking into a website of a state elections board and sending spear-phishing emails to state elections officials.
Rosenstein said that the Justice Department intends to transfer this specific case to the department's national security division from the special counsel's office, meaning that the case will remain open even if Mueller's investigation is shut down.
The successful apprehension of the Russians is highly unlikely, given that they are out of reach of U.S. law enforcement in Moscow.
The indictment was returned by a grand jury in the District of Columbia on Friday.
Reports began to emerge in late 2017 that U.S. prosecutors were eyeing charges against Russians in the DNC hack. The Wall Street Journal reported last November that the Justice Department had identified six Russian government officials implicated in the hack and were considering whether to indict them.
An unclassified U.S. intelligence community assessment released last January blamed Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, for breaching the DNC email accounts of Democratic party officials.
Following the hacking of the DNC accounts, emails were leaked revealing that the Democratic National Committee favored Hillary Clinton over her rival Bernie Sanders in the party's 2016 nominating contest.
The leak resulted in the resignation of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as chair of the committee.
The intelligence community believes the Russian efforts were intended to help elect President Donald Trump, a conclusion the Senate Intelligence Committee said earlier this month it saw no reason to dispute.
Trump has dismissed that conclusion as a "fake news" excuse for Democrats for losing the election. On Friday the White House released a statement saying the latest indictment confirms its longstanding stance that there was "no collusion" between the Russians and Trump's campaign.
"Today’s charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result. This is consistent with what we have been saying all along," White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said, according to The Hill.
The hacking operation targeting Democratic officials, which began in March of 2016, was allegedly carried out by two Russian intelligence units, one devoted to conducting cyber operations, and another to leaking hacked information.
The indictment alleges that the Russians created the online personas DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, which then leaked the hacked information.
The indictment also alleges that the Russians used an organization as a “passthrough” to release documents, though that organization is not identified.
The announcement Friday followed much the same form as the one five months ago in which Rosenstein revealed that Mueller had indicted on fraud charges 13 Russians who allegedly engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in the presidential election.
Friday’s indictment was unsealed a mere two days before Trump is poised to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin face-to-face in Helsinki. Russia has repeatedly denied meddling in the election.
The president has pledged to bring up the Kremlin's election meddling while meeting in Helsinki, saying Friday he will "absolutely firmly ask the question." Putin denied Russia's role during their first face-to-face last year.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)