They are accused of hacking, wire fraud, identity theft and money laundering as part of an effort to distract from Russia’s state-sponsored doping program. Three of the defendants were also charged in the hacking of US persons involved in the 2016 election, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John Demers said during a news conference. All defendants are members of the GRU, a Russian Federation intelligence agency within the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian military. It’s known that GRU engaged in a series of cyberattacks against anti-doping agencies and officials, sporting federations and more than 250 athletes in retaliation for the exposure of Russia’s state-backed doping program.
Mr Demers confirmed the seven agents were indicted in connection to the attack on the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), on football’s governing body FIFA and the US and global anti-doping agencies, and on the US nuclear energy company Westinghouse among others. “I hope that through today’s charges, which fall far from the electoral arena of our prior charges, we can further educate ourselves as to the scope of the Russian government’s disinformation and influence campaigns,” Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John Demers said. The GRU hackers traveled in some instances using Russian Government-issued diplomatic passports.