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Russian Intelligence Officers Charged with Conspiring to Use U.S. Citizens as Illegal Russian Agents

They allegedly conducted a multi-year foreign malign influence campaign

A federal grand jury in Tampa, Florida, returned a superseding indictment charging four U.S. citizens and three Russian nationals with working on behalf of the Russian government and in conjunction with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to conduct a multi-year foreign malign influence campaign in the United States. Among other conduct, the superseding indictment alleges that the Russian defendants recruited, funded and directed U.S. political groups to act as unregistered illegal agents of the Russian government and sow discord and spread pro-Russian propaganda; the indicted intelligence officers, in particular, participated in covertly funding and directing candidates for local office within the United States.

Additionally, in a separate case out of the District of Columbia, a criminal complaint was unsealed charging Russian national Natalia Burlinova with conspiring with an FSB officer to act as an illegal agent of Russia in the United States.

"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," said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen of the Justice Department's National Security Division. "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."

"Efforts by the Russian government to secretly influence U.S. elections will not be tolerated," said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. "As today's announcement demonstrates, the Criminal Division is committed to eradicating foreign malign influence from the U.S. political system and helping ensure the integrity of our elections."

Please select this link to read the complete press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

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