Mark Hosenball and Sarah N. Lynch | Reuters
WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the United States announced criminal charges against two Iranians, whom it accuses of launching a cyber disinformation campaign to interfere in the 2020 US presidential election, targeting voters, as well as elected members of Congress and the US media company.
The Treasury also announced that it is imposing sanctions on six Iranians and one Iranian group for trying to influence the US elections in 2020.
Seyyed Mohammad Hossein Musa Kazemi, 24, and Sajjad Kashian, 27, are accused of obtaining confidential information about the U.S. vote from at least one state election website and of conspiring with others to spread misinformation in an attempt to undermine American confidence in honesty. elections.
A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Senior US law enforcement officials told reporters Thursday that they had no evidence that any alleged hacking activity influenced the election results.
The indictment alleges that Iranian hackers gained access to an unnamed American media company’s computer network to spread false election claims, but their conspiracy was thwarted by interference from the FBI and companies whose names are not listed in the indictment.
The indictment alleges that they also posted Facebook messages as part of their alleged conspiracy, ostensibly as a group of volunteers from the far-right Proud Boys, Republican members of Congress, and then-President Donald Trump’s campaigners.
He also claims that they tried to access voter registration data from 11 government websites, and in one case they were able to download data from a government website that contained information on 100,000 registered voters.
“This indictment details how the two Iranian actors fought in a targeted, coordinated campaign to undermine confidence in the integrity of the US electoral system and sow discord among Americans,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s Office of Homeland Security. …
US suspicions of Iranian interference in the 2020 presidential election surfaced last October.
Two weeks before the November elections, top intelligence officials in the Trump administration said both Russia and Iran had tried to meddle in the elections and gained access to some U.S. voter registration data.
Some voters reported receiving emails purportedly from the Proud Boys, a self-proclaimed “Western chauvinist” club that has since come under scrutiny after some of its members took part in the January 6 riots outside the US Capitol.
While the Proud Boys’ hoax was previously known, details of the hacker’s attempts to infiltrate the media company were not released until Thursday’s indictment was disclosed.
According to court documents, the hackers hoped to use their access to the media company to spread misinformation about the elections. But the FBI warned the injured company, helping it kick out the hackers.
US officials and electoral security experts have long feared such a cyberattack following a series of similar incidents in Eastern Europe over the past two years.