WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government warned on Friday that Russia, China and Iran were seeking to influence next month’s congressional elections as federal prosecutors unveiled charges against a Russian national accused of participating in such a scheme.
Influence operations from those nations include use of social media to amplify divisive issues, seeding disinformation about political candidates and sponsoring content in English-language media, four intelligence and law enforcement agencies said in a joint statement.
They issued the warning on Friday as the U.S. government unsealed criminal charges against Russian national Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44. She is the first individual to be indicted for attempting to interfere in the 2018 U.S. elections, according to a government official with knowledge of the matter.
“Foreign interference in U.S. elections is a threat to our democracy,” said the statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Justice Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security. “Identifying and preventing this interference is a top priority of the Federal Government.”
The agencies said they had no evidence that any foreign actor sought to compromise voting systems in a bid to prevent voting, change results or prevent authorities from tallying votes in the November congressional elections.
Some state and local governments, which run polling sites, have reported attempts to access their networks, but officials were able to “prevent access or quickly mitigate these attempts,” the four agencies said.
Reporting by Christopher Bing and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Jim Finkle and Richard Chang