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Thirteen Russian US based nationals were indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday for interference in the US presidential race.
Charges are being brought against these individuals said to be linked to an organization called the Internet Research Agency, which aimed to sow discord among the American voting public.
“The organization sought, in part, to conduct what it called ‘information warfare against the United States of America’ through fictitious U.S. personas on social media platforms and other Internet-based media,” the indictment said.
The group’s strategy “included interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with the stated goal of “spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general” the statement read.
Some Defendants “posed as US persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”
The White House released another statement following the indictments, suggesting the legal action vindicated the Trump campaign.
“President Donald J. Trump has been fully briefed on this matter and is glad to see the Special Counsel’s investigation further indicates—that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and that the outcome of the election was not changed or affected.”
“It is more important than ever before to come together as Americans. We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion…” Trump was quoted in the statement as saying.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed as “blather” the charges leveled by the FBI special counsel against the Russians for election meddling.
Lavrov said at a security conference in Germany he would not comment further until he saw “facts”.
The charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller are seen as a major development in his continuing probe into the US presidential race.
Asked about the charges, Lavrov said that even Vice-President Mike Pence had called the investigation into question.
“So until we see the facts, everything else is just blather.”
But Trump’s National Security Adviser, H R McMaster, said evidence of Russian meddling was “now incontrovertible”.
Against this, in a series of tweets, Donald J. Trump has repeatedly asserted there was “no collusion” between his election campaign and Russia.