A federal grand jury issued indictments Friday for 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies suspected of interfering in the 2016 election, the special counsel’s office announced.
According to the indictment, signed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Russian nationals began conspiring as early as 2014 to interfere “with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.”
Part of the scheme involving defendants posing as Americans and communicating “with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”
In a press briefing held shortly after the indictment was announced, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that there was no allegation in the indictment that “any American” — including members of the Trump campaign — “was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity.”
Rosenstein also said that “there is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”
According to the indictment, the Russian operatives used three companies — the Internet Research Agency, Concord Management and Concord Catering — to carry out the scheme.
Dubbed the “translator project,” the campaign began in April 2014 and employed hundreds of Russian operatives tasked with using fictitious online personas to sow discord on social media platforms.
The goal of the project was “information warfare against the United States of America,” the indictment asserts.
The scheme involved intelligence gathering activities inside the U.S. as well as interactions with U.S. political activists.
Two defendants, Aleksandra Krylova and Anna Bogacheva, traveled to the U.S. in 2014 to gather intelligence as part of the project. Between June 4, 2016 and June 26, 2016, Krylova and Bogacheva several states, including New York, California, New Mexico and Texas to gather intelligence.
The Russians also purchased space on computer servers inside the U.S. in order to mask their activities.