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13 Russian Nationals Indicted For Meddling In 2016 Presidential Elections

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| February 17 , 2018 , 12:29 IST

Thirteen Russian nationals and 3 Russian companies were indicted for interfering in the much-hyped 2016 US Presidential elections through social media propaganda. The Department of Justice confirmed of charging the accused parties with conspiracy to defraud the country on Friday.

Three defendants were additionally charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud whereas five defendants were charged with aggravated identity theft. An unprecedented campaign was conducted by Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.

"The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said.

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US Special Counsel Robert Mueller confirmed that the accused wanted to "spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general". While President Donald Trump kept opposing US intelligence community's longstanding conclusions of Russian meddling, the sweeping indictment proved otherwise.

The indictment indicates that hundreds of social media accounts were created by Russians on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter which appeared to be belonging to US nationals. The Russians allegedly purchased space on US computer servers to set up a virtual private network.

Posing as politically and socially active Americans, the accused advocated for and against particular political candidates. They went ahead and purchased political advertisements on social media and used stolen or fictitious American identities and false identification documents.

President Donald Trump clarified that election results were not affected by Russian meddling along the lines, "The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!" He indicated that "Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014" and his supporters doesn't have anything to do with the interference.

In an official statement, Trump called for US citizens to unite against the evil forces and protect the integrity of their democracy. He bellowed, "We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful."