US gives 35 Russian diplomats 72 hours to leave country over hacking allegations

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Following the release of the most recent FBI report that directly accuses Russian intelligence of interfering with last month’s US presidential election, US President Barack Obama has banished 35 Russian diplomats. Declared “persona non grata,” the diplomats and their families have 72 hours to leave the US.

President Obama said the measures are a “necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm US interests” and “all Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions.”

The FBI report includes malware samples used in a large scale cyberattack. According to their findings, from as early as 2015, Russian intelligence emailed a malicious link to over 1,000 US government and FBI targets. After corrupting various accounts, the cybercriminals stole confidential information and internal emails.

This decision is also a result of efforts by US senators, Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and Democrat Amy Klobuchar. When asked by CNN about economic and diplomatic sanctions, Graham said their goal is to “hit Putin as an individual and his inner circle for interfering in our election, and they’re doing it all over the world — not just in the United States.”

President-elect Donald Trump dismissed the allegations or Russian interference in the election, and encouraged US citizens and Democrats to “get on with our lives.”

Russian officials denied the allegations.

“If Washington really does take new hostile steps, they will be answered,” said Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry. “Any action against Russian diplomatic missions in the US will immediately bounce back on US diplomats in Russia.”

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