By Umar Farooq
WASHINGTON (AA) – The Justice Department on Thursday indicted seven Russian spies, from the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), who were accused of hacking, wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.
The spies are accused of being a part of a campaign that was working toward delegitimizing the efforts of international anti-doping organizations who were responsible for uncovering an athlete doping program sponsored by the Russian government during the 2014 Winter Olympics.
"State-sponsored hacking and disinformation campaigns pose serious threats to our security and to our open society, but the Department of Justice is defending against them," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.
The indictment said after an investigation into the illegal doping program by international organizations, Russian hackers stole data from the organizations, including medical records of around 250 athletes from 30 countries.
Three of the spies were also charged for their role in hacking U.S. entities in relation to the 2016 presidential election.
“The actions of these seven hackers, all working as officials for the Russian government, were criminal, retaliatory, and damaging to innocent victims and the United States’ economy, as well as to world organizations," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. "The FBI will not permit any government, group, or individual to threaten our people, our country, or our partners. We will work tirelessly to find them, stop them, and bring them to justice.”
In addition to the charges, the GRU officers were also said to have been involved in targeting other facilities, such as the Westinghouse Electric Company in Pennsylvania.