12 Russian intelligence officers charged over alleged 2016 US election interference

They are accused of hacking and releasing Democratic Party emails during the campaign

12 Russian intelligence officers charged over alleged 2016 US election interference

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the grand jury indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking offenses related to 2016 elections. Picture by: USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images

12 Russian intelligence officers have been charged in the US with hacking offences connected with alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

It comes as part of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The dozen people charged worked for an intelligence agency within the Russian General Staff (GRU).

The indictment released today alleges that the Russian officers worked to hack into computer networks of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Information gathered during the alleged hacks is then said to have been released online under the names "DCLeaks" and "Guccifer 2.0".

Thousands of emails from both the Democratic committee and the Clinton campaign were leaked online during the election campaign.

11 of the defendants are charged with conspiring to hack into computer in order to steal and release documents.

One of the those defendants along with the 12th Russian officer are charged with "conspiring to infiltrate computers of organizations responsible for administering elections".

Alleged hacks

Announcing the charges, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein said: "The conspirators corresponded with several Americans through the internet.

"There is no allegation in the indictment that the Americans knew they were communicating with Russian intelligence officers."

He added: "In a second, related conspiracy, Russian GRU officers hacked the website of a state election board and stole information about 500,000 voters.

"They also hacked into computers of a company that supplied software used to verify voter registration information; targeted state and local offices responsible for administering the elections; and sent spearphishing emails to people involved in administering elections, with malware attached."

Officials stressed there is no allegation that the alleged interference altered the vote or changed the outcome of the election.

Today's announcement marks the latest development in the special counsel probe, which Donald Trump has repeatedly criticised as a 'witch hunt'.

Earlier this year, 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies were charged with interfering in the 2016 election and political processes.

US justice officials claimed some of the defendants used bogus social media postings and adverts to sway political opinion.

The latest charges in the ongoing investigation come only days before President Trump is due to meet Vladimir Putin in Helsinki for their first official summit.