London- The U.S. government formally accused Russia on Friday of a campaign of cyber-attacks against Democratic Party organizations ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election. Russia had been trying to influence U.S. elections and play a part in deciding who will succeed current President Barack Obama.
A Kremlin spokesman called the U.S. allegations “nonsense”, the Interfax news agency reported.
“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” a U.S. government statement said on Friday about hacking of political groups.
“These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”
Hours after the U.S. government’s accusation was levied, WikiLeaks posted hundreds of emails on its website purportedly hacked from Podesta’s private account.
U.S. intelligence officials concluded weeks ago that the Russian government was conducting or orchestrating cyber-attacks against the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, possibly to disrupt or discredit the election, in which Democrat Hillary Clinton faces Republican Donald Trump.
On Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the U.S. accusations lacked any proof and were an attempt by Washington to fan “unprecedented anti-Russian hysteria”.
“This whipping up of emotions regarding ‘Russian hackers’ is used in the U.S. election campaign, and the current U.S. administration, taking part in this fight, is not averse to using dirty tricks,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Saturday in comments posted on the ministry’s website.
The Obama administration’s decision to blame Russia for the attacks is the latest downward turn in U.S. relations with Moscow, which are under strain over Russia’s actions in Syria and Ukraine and in cyberspace.
Also on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Russian and Syrian actions in the Syrian civil war, including bombings of hospitals, “beg for” a war crimes investigation.
In addition, a U.S. intelligence official said on Friday that Russia was moving short-range nuclear-capable missiles into Kaliningrad, a tiny Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania, confirming Estonian news reports.
Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, said the public blaming for the hacks left one remaining question of “why Donald Trump continues to make apologies for the Russians”. Trump had previously expressed doubt about Russia’s involvement. In July, he suggested Russia should attempt to retrieve and publish emails from Clinton’s private server.