The US Justice Department has announced charges against seven alleged Russian military intelligence officials it accuses of hacking doping agencies and other international organizations.
"We announce an indictment charging seven Russian military officers with violation of several US criminal laws for malicious cyber activities against the United States and its allies," Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers told reporters.
According to the DOJ, WADA, the OPCW, USADA, Westinghouse nuclear power company, which provides power to Ukraine, at least 250 athletes and sports figures from different countries were allegedly targeted by Russian intelligence officers; they also ostensibly targeted a Canadian anti-doping agency.
"They targeted Westinghouse, a nuclear power company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that supplied nuclear fuel to Ukraine," US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott Brady told reporters.
The assistant attorney general has claimed that three Russian agents were previously accused of meddling in 2016 US election.
WADA Says No Evidence of Any Breach of Its Systems
Later in the day, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said in a statement to Sputnik on Thursday that it has no evidence of any breach of its systems since 2016.
"The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) notes the announcement today by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and US Department of Justice (DOJ) that they have charged a number of individuals in connection with a range of alleged offenses, including hacking and other cybercrimes dating back to 2016," WADA said. "There is no evidence of any breach of WADA's systems having occurred since 2016. WADA continues to operate a close and permanent monitoring of its systems," it said.
FBI Seeks to Put Alleged Russian Intel Officers in Jail
According to FBI Deputy Assistant Director for the Cyber Division Eric Welling, US seeks to put the alleged Russian intelligence officers in jail in Pittsburgh, and believes that they are currently in Russia.
Meanwhile, the FBI said it had identified the alleged suspects as Aleksei Morenets, Evgenii Serebriakov, Ivan Yermakov, Artem Malyshev, Dmitriy Badin, Oleg Sotnikov and Alexey Minin, the DOJ claimed.
The FBI has also seized two domains of the hacker group Fancy Bear, according to a statement released by the US Department of Justice; thus, access to the sites “fancybear.net” and “fancybear.org” is now blocked.
The US' accusations against Russia include cyber hacking, fraud, theft of personal data and money laundering by using cryptocurrencies, Demers stated, adding that Russia was carrying out cyber attacks to take revenge for the doping scandal during the Olympic Games.
"This indictment alleges a conspiracy to use computer hacking to obtain non-public, personal health information about athletes and others in the files of anti-doping agencies and sporting federations in multiple countries," Demers said.
Demers said the operations "involved sophisticated, persistent and unauthorized access into the victims' computer networks for the purpose of stealing private or otherwise sensitive information."
"Nations like Russia and others that engage in malicious and norm-shattering cyber and influence activities should understand the continuing and steadfast resolve of the United States and its allies to prevent, disrupt and deter such unaccountable conduct," Demers told a news conference.
Netherlands Accuses Russia of Hacker Attack on OPCW
She also claimed that they were GRU operatives who purportedly had diplomatic passports; the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the allegations as "spy mania."
The Dutch Defense Ministry earlier announced the US' intentions to bring charges against alleged Russian intelligence officers.
"Today, the US publicly brings charges against a number of Russian intelligence officers," the ministry said in a statement.
According to the ministry, on August 6 the US DOJ submitted a request for legal assistance to the Dutch prosecution over a criminal investigation "into unauthorized Russian cyber operations;" and the Netherlands provided the US with relevant information, having launched its own probe.