The Department of Justice has indicted seven Russian intelligence officers on hacking charges, saying they allegedly targeted anti-doping agencies in retaliation for Russia's ban from the Olympic Games, the DOJ announced Thursday.
The seven defendants have all been charged with conspiracy to commit computer fraud, with some facing a variety of additional wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering charges in incidents that started around December 2014. The intelligence officers, working under Russia's GRU intelligence agency, allegedly targeted American and international organizations "based on their strategic interest to the Russian government," a DOJ press release says. Those organizations included FIFA, an international group investigating chemical weapons attacks, and a Pennsylvania nuclear facility.
Most of the attacks happened remotely, the indictment alleges. Yet in some cases, like when the intelligence officers allegedly infiltrated an anti-doping conference in Switzerland, two of the defendants apparently traveled to hack their targets' WiFi networks. The group would then release some "selected items of stolen information" under the name Fancy Bears' Hack Team "in a concerted effort to draw media attention," the indictment's press release details.
Russia has long been suspected of retaliatory hacking after its doping scandal got it banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics. Hackers under the Fancy Bear name previously leaked drug test findings from top athletes, including Serena Williams and gymnast Simone Biles, per BuzzFeed News.
The indictment was not part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe, but three of those indicted Thursday were also charged in February with interfering in the 2016 election. Kathryn Krawczyk