The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, the Wall Street Journal reports. Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year. The case could provide the clearest picture yet of the actors behind the DNC intrusion. U.S. intelligence agencies have attributed the attack to Russian intelligence services, but haven’t provided detailed information about how they concluded those services were responsible or details about the individuals involved.
The high-profile hack of the DNC’s computers played a central role in the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.” Putin and the Russian government have denied meddling in the U.S. election. Thousands of the DNC’s emails and other data, as well as emails from the personal account of John Podesta, campaign chairman to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, were made public by WikiLeaks. The pinpointing of particular Russian military and intelligence hackers highlights the exhaustive nature of the government’s probe. The result of naming alleged perpetrators publicly may make it difficult for them to travel rather than incarcerating them. Arresting Russian operatives is highly unlikely. The Justice Department’s charged two Russian operatives and two others with hacking into Yahoo’s computers starting in 2014 and pilfering information about 500 million accounts. One of the defendants, a Canadian national, was arrested; the other defendants are believed to be in Russia.