Good afternoon. A grand jury in the District of Columbia today returned an indictment presented by the Special Counsel's office. The indictment charges 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States' political system, including 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. In order to hide the Russian origins of their activities, the defendants allegedly purchased space on computer servers, located here in the United States, in order to set up a virtual private network.
The defendants allegedly used that infrastructure to establish hundreds of accounts on social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, making it appear that those accounts were controlled by persons located in the United States. They used stolen or fictitious American identities, fraudulent bank accounts, and false identification documents. The defendants posed as politically and socially active Americans advocating for and against particular candidates. They established social media pages and groups to communicate with unwitting Americans.
Now, there is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election. The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. Thank you very much.