In a court document, the U.S. government said Russian entities began meddling in the U.S. as early as 2014. The goal was to “sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 presidential election,” the indictment read.
The defendants allegedly posed as U.S. citizens and used bogus social media postings, groups and advertisements designed sway political opinion during the race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the indictment stated.
The indictment said the defendants allegedly were “supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump … and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”
The charges are the most direct allegation to date of illegal Russian meddling in the election.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters on Friday he was not yet familiar with U.S. indictments of Russian nationals accused of interfering with U.S. elections.
WATCH: Heads of US intelligence services unanimous in their opinion that Russia interfered in election
— With files from Reuters