White House Punishes Russia for Election-Related Hacking

Boots 35 diplomats, issues new sanctions, closes Russian compounds
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2016 2:31 PM CST
US Boots 35 Russian Diplomats Over Election-Related Hacking
President Barack Obama has imposed sanctions on Russian officials and intelligence services in retaliation for Russia's interference in the US presidential election by hacking American political sites and email accounts.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

In retaliation for Russia's election-influencing hacking, the Obama administration is kicking 35 Russian intelligence operatives out of the US, the New York Times reports. The operatives, who Reuters refers to as diplomats, are part of the Russian embassy in Washington DC and the Russian consulate in San Francisco. They'll have 72 hours to leave the country. The White House also placed new sanctions on Russia's FSB and GRU intelligence agencies, according to AFP. The agencies are believed to have been involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee and others. Finally, the administration is closing Russian compounds in Maryland and New York believed to be used for intelligence purposes.

The Times calls it the "strongest American response ever taken to a state-sponsored cyberattack." Obama calls the response both "necessary and appropriate." "I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government's aggressive harassment of US officials and cyber operations aimed at the US election," Obama said in a statement. The State Department says US officials in Moscow are regularly harassed by Russian security agents and traffic police; Thursday's actions are in response to that on top of election-related hacking. The move puts the onus on Donald Trump to lift the sanctions when he takes office, officially signalling that US intelligence agencies can't be trusted. When asked about the situation Wednesday, Trump said: "The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on." (Read more Russia stories.)

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