After President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia in retaliation for its hacking of the Democratic National Committee servers and alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election, the Washington Post reported that “U.S. officials have also considered criminal indictments of Russian officials, but the FBI appears to have been unable so far to compile sufficient evidence to take that step.” [That Sentence seems to have been removed from the article, but can be found here and here.]
The Post still reports that U.S. officials say they have been refining for months their assessment of the attacks, in which they say a Russian military intelligence agency hacked the Democratic National Committee and stole emails that were later released by WikiLeaks. Emails hacked from the account of John Podesta, who chaired Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, also were made public. State electoral systems were also targeted, but administration officials said Thursday, as they have in the past, that they have no evidence the actual voting process was interfered with on Election Day.
The Post notes that while U.S. officials have not named Russian President Vladimir Putin himself in the cyber-meddling, Obama has suggested that approval came from the very top of the Russian government.
As reported by Bloomberg Politics, the Department of Justice has used indictments in the past to target foreign officials it believes participated in cyberattacks. In 2014, a grand jury indicted five Chinese military hackers the Obama administration alleges stole trade secrets and internal communications from an American business.” Seven Iranians were also “indicted earlier this year for a series of cyberattacks against the U.S. financial system and a U.S. dam in New York state three years ago.”