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NEWS & ANALYSIS

Federal Prosecutors Unseal Indictment Alleging Successful Iranian Hack During 2020 Election


Nearly a year after ex-Cyber-Security and Infrastructure Agency Chief Chris Krebs declared on “60 Minutes” that there was no compromise of the 2020 election, federal prosecutors in New York unsealed an indictment alleging quite the opposite. 

On Thursday, unsealed documents stated that two Iranian hackers successfully hacked into a state computer election system, stole voter registration data and used it to carry out a cyber-intimidation campaign that targeted Republican members of Congress, Trump campaign officials and Democratic voters in the 2020 election, Just the News reports

The defendants “were part of a coordinated conspiracy in which Iranian hackers sought to undermine faith and confidence in the U.S. presidential election,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said. 

The indictment charged Seyyed Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi and Sajjad Kashian with obtaining confidential U.S. voter information from at least one state election website, sending threatening email messages to intimidate and interfere with voters and sending a video carrying the Proud Boys logo, containing disinformation about election infrastructure vulnerabilities. 

While the state this occurred in was not identified, prosecutors said at least 100,000 voters’ information was stolen. 

“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 G. Olsen said. “The allegations illustrate how foreign disinformation campaigns operate and seek to influence the American public. The Department is committed to exposing and disrupting malign foreign influence efforts using all available tools, including criminal charges.” 

Efforts included an unsuccessful effort to hack into a media company’s computers to further spread false claims.