The U.S. government has accused two Iranian nationals of running a 2020 presidential election interference campaign complete with hacking, disinformation, and threatening people to vote for Donald Trump. In one prong of the campaign, the two Iranians—24-year-old Seyyed Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi and 27-year-old Sajjad Kashian—sent intimidating emails to tens of thousands of American voters threatening them to change their votes to Trump. The emails, which the Iranians made to look like they were coming from the Proud Boys, weren’t the only bogus messages they sent. They also sent messages to Republican members of Congress and White House advisers claiming that the Democratic Party had a plot to exploit “serious security vulnerabilities” to register non-existent voters or change mail-in ballots, according to the indictment.
The Iranians themselves were working to hack into 11 state voter websites, and in one case were successful, stealing data on 100,000 voters, per court files. The hackers also compromised an unnamed U.S. media company’s network and tried to break-in the day after Election Day, ostensibly to use the media company to spread disinformation about the election, the Department of Justice said. The FBI intervened, however, so the plot to use the media company was foiled.
Last year the U.S. government announced the intimidation campaign was tied back to Iran. The two indicted Iranians worked for a company, Eeleyanet Gostar (now known as Emennet Pasargad), which has done business with the Iranian government. The Treasury Department sanctioned both the hackers and the company—as well as four company employees Thursday.