Nov 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Iranian nationals charged with spreading election disinformation, threatening voters

FBI Director Christopher Wray

FBI Director Christopher Wray. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A federal grand jury in New York indicted two Iranian nationals on charges related to a cyber-based disinformation campaign to "undermine voter confidence" and "sow discord" in the 2020 election.

Why it matters: The indictment, unsealed Thursday, alleges that the hackers claimed to be members of the Proud Boys and sent messages to thousands of voters threatening them with "physical injury" if they didn't vote for former President Donald Trump.

  • Last year, the Director of National Intelligence warned that Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration information that could be used to interfere in the 2020 election.
  • The hackers also demanded that registered voters change their party affiliation to Republican, adding, "We will know which candidate you voted for," per the indictment.

The big picture: Earlier this week, an advisory compiled by American, British and Australian officials outlined malicious activity perpetrated by hackers linked to the Iranian government.

  • The agencies noted that Iranian Government-sponsored hackers exploited computer vulnerabilities and targeted "multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors," namely the transportation and health care sectors.
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