US Charges 12 Russian Military Officers With Conspiracy to Interfere in 2016 Election
Twelve Russian military intelligence officers were indicted by the U.S. special counsel on Friday of conspiring to interfere in the 2016 presidential elections.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment by a grand jury in Washington, D.C.
Eleven of the defendants were charged with conspiring to hack computers, steal documents and release them in an effort to influence the election.
The twelfth was charged with "conspiring to infiltrate computers of organizations responsible for administering elections, including state boards of election, secretaries of state, and companies that supply software and other technology used to administer elections," Rosenstein said.
The Russians worked for two units of GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency, according to the indictment.
The charges comes ahead of a July 16 meeting between U.S. president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Rosenstein said he briefed Trump on the allegations against the Russian operatives earlier this week.
"The president is fully aware of today's actions by the Department," Rosenstein told a press conference.
In February, the special counsel announced charges against a Russian social media troll company, 12 of its employees, and its financial backer.
Chinese Ship Spies on International Military Exercises
The U.S. Navy says it is closely watching a Chinese spy ship in international waters by the U.S. state of Hawaii, as 25 nations participate the world's largest international naval warfare exercises nearby.
"They (China) are spying on international exercises," a U.S. defense official told VOA on Friday.
A U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet spokesperson added that the Navy "expect(s) this ship will remain outside of U.S. territorial seas and not operate in a manner that disrupts the ongoing Rim of the Pacific maritime exercises."
A Navy official said the Chinese surveillance ship arrived in the waters off Hawaii on Wednesday and is operating within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. The official added that the Navy has taken "all precautions necessary to protect critical information."
China was disinvited from participating in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) in May.
Pentagon spokesman Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said recent Chinese military actions in the South China Sea "destabilized" the region and ran counter to international norms for freedom of navigation in international waters.
"China's behavior is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise," Logan said.