HONOLULU (CBS SF & AP) — Russian consulate officials based in San Francisco have been given 72 hours to leave the country as part of a sweeping response to election hacking issued by President Barack Obama on Thursday.
As part of the response, the State Department declared 35 Russian government officials from the Russian Embassy in Washington and the Russian Consulate in San Francisco “persona non grata.” They were acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status. Those individuals and their families were given 72 hours to leave the United States.
“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” Obama said in a statement released while he was vacationing in Hawaii. He added: “Such activities have consequences.”
Obama ordered sanctions against two Russian intelligence services, the GRU and the FSB, plus companies which the U.S. says support the GRU. The cybersecurity firm hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate theft of its emails determined earlier this year the hacking came from the Fancy Bear group, believed to be affiliated with the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency.
The president also sanctioned Lt. Gen. Korobov, the head of GRU, and three of his deputies. Other individuals sanctioned include Alexei Belan and Yevgeny Bogachev, two Russian nationals who have been wanted by the FBI for cyber crimes for years.
Obama said the hacking “could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government,” a contention the U.S. has used to suggest Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved.
Although the White House announced at the same time it was kicking out Russian officials and closing facilities, it said those were responses to other troubling Russian behavior: harassment of U.S. diplomats by Russian personnel and police.
The two compounds were also being closed down — one in Maryland and one in New York — that are recreational facilities owned by Russia’s government, the U.S. said. The White House said Russia had been notified their staff would be denied access to the sites starting noon on Friday.
Russian officials have denied the Obama administration’s accusation that the Russian government was involved at the highest levels in trying to influence the U.S. presidential election. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia’s goal was to help Donald Trump win — an assessment Trump has dismissed as ridiculous.
The move puts the president-elect in the position of having to decide whether to roll back the measures once in office.
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