WASHINGTON (AP) - The office of special counsel Robert Mueller says a grand jury has charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities.
The defendants are accused of violating U.S. criminal laws to interfere with American elections and the political process. Charges include conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says no Americans were "knowing participants" in what federal prosecutors call an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Thirteen Russians and three Russian companies were charged Friday with plotting to meddle in the election through social media propaganda aimed at helping Republican Donald Trump and harming the prospects of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Charges were brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller and represented the most direct allegation to date of illegal Russian meddling during the election. It alleges that Russians used bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to sway political opinion during the race between Republican Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent.
The deputy attorney general says a new indictment does not allege that Russian meddling altered the outcome of presidential election.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says the indictment does not include allegations that the plot swayed the outcome of the vote.
One of those indicted in the Russia probe is a businessman with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Yevgeny Prigozhin (pree-GOH'-zhin) is an entrepreneur from St. Petersburg who's been dubbed "Putin's chef" by Russian media.
His restaurants and catering businesses have hosted the Kremlin leader's dinners with foreign dignitaries. In the more than 10 years since establishing a relationship with Putin, his business has expanded to services for the military.
Prigozhin's assets also include an oil trading firm that reportedly has been sending private Russian fighters to Syria. Prigozhin is on the list of those sanctioned by the U.S.
This is a developing story. Stay with NewsWatch 12 for updates.