Two Iranian nationals engaged in a sprawling effort to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections — including by gaining access to confidential voter information from at least one state election website and attempting to access 11 states in total — according to a federal indictment unsealed Thursday.
The defendants, Seyyed Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi, 24, and Sajjad Kashian, 27, face charges of computer fraud, voter intimidation and transmission of interstate threats.
Part of the campaign was allegedly sending emails to voters purportedly from the Proud Boys, a right wing nationalist hate group, demanding that they vote for former President Trump. That effort was quickly identified by journalists and the U.S. government as a likely Iranian interference effort.
Thursday’s indictment also alleges the hackers obtained access to the computer network of an unnamed media company that provides content management systems for “dozens” of other newspapers and other publications. The hackers tested their ability to modify and create content on the company’s system ahead of the election, the indictment says, and attempted to gain access to the company’s system on Nov. 4, 2020. They were unsuccessful because the FBI had notified the company, which then blocked the hackers’ access.
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