The U.S. Department of Justice announced this week that a federal grand jury in Florida has indicted a group, including U.S. citizens and intelligence officers for Russia with attempting to interfere in U.S. elections.
The group was also charged with working to sow discord and spread pro-Russian propaganda.
Three Russian nationals are accused of working on behalf of the Russian government along with the Russian Federal Security Service in a years-long foreign influence campaign,the DOJ said.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen said, "Russia's foreign intelligence service allegedly weaponized our First Amendment rights, freedoms Russia denies its own citizens, to divide Americans and interfere in elections in the United States."
Olsen said, "The department will not hesitate to expose and prosecute those who sow discord and corrupt U.S. elections in service of hostile foreign interests, regardless of whether the culprits are U.S. citizens or foreign individuals abroad."
A superseding indictment claims Russian defendants funded, recruited and attempted to direct U.S. political groups to "act as unregistered illegal agents of the Russian government" in their efforts to sow discord.
The DOJ says the operation tried to "covertly" fund and direct candidates for local office in the U.S.
The DOJ said Moscow, Russia resident Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov was the founder and president of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia. Ionov is accused of working to create a malign influence campaign.
Other defendants named in the indictment are Aleksey Borisovich Sukhodolov and Yegor Sergeyevich Popov, who the DOJ says are Russian Federal Security Service officers.
Omali Yeshitela, a U.S. citizen from St. Petersburg, Florida, is named in the indictment along with Penny Joanne Hess, a U.S. citizen from St. Petersburg, Florida.
U.S. citizens Augustus C. Romain Jr. and Jesse Nevel of St. Petersburg, Florida are also named.
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