Thirteen Russian nationals charged in US election probe

A US grand jury has charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities, the office of special counsel Robert Mueller has said.

The defendants are accused of violating US criminal laws to interfere with American elections and the political process.

Charges include conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

The indictment 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.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump before the election in 2016.

The charges are the most direct allegation to date of illegal Russian meddling in the election.

The goal, the indictment says, was to "sow discord in the US political system, including the 2016 presidential election".

The charges arise from Mr Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the election and whether there was improper co-ordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Before Friday, four people, including Mr Trump's former national security adviser and former campaign chairman, had been charged in Mr Mueller's investigation.

The White House had no immediate response to the indictment.

- PA

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