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The Justice Department Has Made Clear Its Indictments of Foreign Hackers Are Only for Show

Josephine Wolff shares her reactions to the U.S. Justice Department's dropping of charges against two Russian shell companies, via her Slate column.

Usually when the Justice Department files charges against hackers linked to foreign governments, the defendants just issue blanket denialsand then ignore the indictments, knowing they’re safely out of reach of the U.S. legal system. But not this time. In 2018, when Robert Mueller filed charges against a group of Russian individuals and three Russian companies for interfering in the 2016 U.S. elections, two of those companies decided to respond in U.S. court—and, incredibly, they now seem to have won.

This week, in a story you would be forgiven for having missed given the ubiquity of coronavirus coverage, the Justice Department announced its intentions to drop the charges filed by Robert Mueller in 2018 against two Russian shell companies allegedly involved in 2016 election interference efforts.

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