The Department of Justice (DoJ) today announced that a grand jury has indicted seven officers, all Russian nationals and residents, in the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a military intelligence agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

DoJ has charged Aleksei Sergeyevich Morenets, Evgenii Mikhaylovich, Serebriakov, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Oleg Mikhaylovich Sotnikov, and Alexey Valerevich Minin with “computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.”

“Today we are indicting seven GRU officers for multiple felonies each, including the use of hacking to spread the personal information of hundreds of anti-doping officials and athletes as part of an effort to distract from Russia’s state-sponsored doping program,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement. “The defendants in this case allegedly targeted multiple Americans and American entities for hacking, from our national anti-doping agency to the Westinghouse Electric Company near Pittsburgh. We are determined to achieve justice in these cases and we will continue to protect the American people from hackers and disinformation.”

According to DoJ, the officers conducted “persistent and sophisticated computer intrusions affecting U.S. persons, corporate entities, international organizations, and their respective employees located around the world, based on their strategic interest to the Russian government.”

“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,” said Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray.

In addition to the anti-doping misinformation campaign, the group of hackers also targeted other entities, including Westinghouse Electric Company’s networks and personnel, as well as the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) computer networks through Wi-Fi connections.

“Cyberattacks against any intergovernmental organization, let alone the OPCW, is a clear violation of international law and a blatant attempt to undermine global efforts to prevent human rights abuses and eliminate the use of weapons of mass destruction,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly, D-Ill., ranking member of the IT subcommittee and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, in a statement. “Our President, this Congress, and global leaders must speak with one voice: ‘Russian cyber assaults must end, otherwise, severe consequences will follow.’”

In 2014, Yermakov performed what DoJ calls reconnaissance on Westinghouse Electric Company’s networks and personnel. Following the initial reconnaissance, Yermakov and conspirators created a fake Westinghouse Electric Company domain and sent spearphishing emails to employees that were designed to gather the employees’ log-in information.

In April of this year, Morenets, Serebriakov, Sotnikov, and Minin traveled to The Hague using diplomatic passports as part of an operation to target OPCW. They had planned to then travel to Switzerland to target the Spiez Swiss Chemical Laboratory. However, they were disrupted by the Dutch defense intelligence service.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.