Washington — Two suspected Iranian computer hackers have been charged with election interference, accused of trying to intimidate American voters ahead of last year’s U.S. presidential election by sending threatening messages and spreading disinformation.
TheIn the days leading up to the November 2020 election law enforcement and intelligence officials held an unusual night news conference to accuse Iran, in which they accused Iran of orchestrating an Email Campaign to intimidate Democratic voters from battleground states in order to get them to vote for then-President Donald Trump.
It contained a message purporting to be from the Proud Boys, a far-right group.with physical harm if they didn’t change their party affiliation and vote for Trump.
Officials from the United States claim that the purpose of the vast influence operation was not to alter the election results but to create confusion and discord and give the impression that the results were not trustworthy.
The indictment was filed in Manhattan’s federal court and unsealed Thursday. It accuses two Iranian nationals, Seyyed Mohammad Musa Kazemi, and Sajjad Kashian, of helping to orchestrate the scheme. The Treasury Department announced sanctions against the men, their coworkers and the company they worked for.
The defendants are not being held and are believed to still reside in Iran. However, officials hope that the indictment with its accompanying sanctions will restrain their ability to travel.
Officials claim that hackers tried to hack into 11 states’ voter websites and downloaded voter information from more than 100,000 people in one state as part of the cyber campaign. Officials described the hackers as sending carefully curated messages to Americans from both major political parties.
According to the indictment, Trump campaign officials and others were told that hackers made Facebook messages claiming that Democrats were plotting to commit voter fraud. A fake video was circulated on social media platforms and claimed to show a hacker accessing state voting websites and registering fraudulent absentee votes. Officials claim that the hackers sent emails to Democrats threatening to “come after” voters who did not support Trump.
“This indictment details how two Iran-based actors waged a targeted, coordinated campaign to erode confidence in the integrity of the U.S. electoral system and to sow discord among Americans,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, the head of the Justice Department’s national security division, said in a statement. “The allegations demonstrate how foreign disinformation campaign operate and seeks to influence the American people.”
Source: CBS News