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Photo: Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool/Getty Images

Federal investigators levied new charges Wednesday against three North Korean computer programmers accused of wide-ranging cyberattacks, including the 2014 Sony Pictures hack and schemes to extort more than $1.3 billion of money and cryptocurrency.

The big picture: The charges expand on the FBI's 2018 case on the cyberattacks targeting Sony Pictures and the WannaCry 2.0 ransomware attack.

Driving the news: The Justice Department outlined a range of criminal cyber activities it says were undertaken by operatives working for a North Korean military intelligence agency. The attacks include:

  • Cyberattacks on the entertainment industry, including the attack on Sony Pictures in retaliation for the release of "The Interview," a satire that made fun of North Korea's dictatorship.
  • Attempts to steal more than $1.2 billion from banks in multiple countries by hacking their computer networks.
  • Developing malicious cryptocurrency applications — including Celas Trade Pro, WorldBit-Bot, iCryptoFx, Union Crypto Trader, Kupay Wallet, CoinGo Trade, Dorusio, CryptoNeuro Trader, and Ants2Whale — to give the North Korean hackers backdoors into victims’ computers.

What they're saying: "The scope of these crimes by the North Korean hackers are staggering," said Tracy L. Wilkison, acting U.S. attorney for the central district of California. "The conduct detailed in the indictment are the acts of a criminal nation-state that has stopped at nothing to extract revenge and obtain money to prop up its regime."

Go deeper: North Korea's hackers are robbing banks

Go deeper

DOJ seizes 36 U.S. website domains for Iranian government disinformation

Iran's President-Elect Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference at Shahid Beheshti conference hall in Tehran on Monday. Photo: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

American officials seized 36 news website domains linked to Iran's government for spreading disinformation as part of a propaganda campaign, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The action comes at a time of heightened tension between the two countries, with Iran's hardline President-elect Ebrahim Raisi on Monday ruling out negotiating over missiles or meeting with President Biden as the two nations hold talks on returning Tehran to the 2015 nuclear deal.

NYT: Khashoggi's killers had paramilitary training in U.S.

A vigil for journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, following his killing in 2018 in Turkey. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Several Saudis who took part in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi had paramilitary training in the U.S. under a State Department contract a year before his 2018 death, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Why it matters: While there's no evidence the department knew that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sanctioned Saudi officials to detain, kidnap and torture dissidents in 2017, the approval of such training underscores how "intensely intertwined" the U.S. has become with a nation known for human rights abuses, per the NYT.

U.S. attorney finalist trashes Labor secretary

Rachael Rollins and Marty Walsh. Photos: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images (Rollins); Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images (Walsh)

A finalist for U.S. attorney in Boston is publicly trashing the city's former mayor — Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

Why it matters: Rachael Rollins’ approach is perpetuating scrutiny of a troubled Cabinet secretary and fellow Democrat — and hints at the independence she may exhibit if tapped for top federal prosecutor for the eastern half of Massachusetts.

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