Obama administration accuses Russia of hacking political groups

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WASHINGTON, Oct 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. government on Friday formally accused Russia of a campaign of cyber attacks against Democratic Party organizations during the campaign for the Nov. 8 presidential election.

U.S. officials have said in the past few months that they believe cyber attacks were orchestrated by hackers backed by the Russian government, possibly to disrupt the election in which Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton faces Republican Party candidate Donald Trump. Russia has dismissed allegations it was involved in cyber attacks on the organizations.

"We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities," a U.S. government statement said on Friday about hacking of political groups.

See some of the lawmakers exposed in the hack:

Hack reveals Democratic Congress members' phone numbers
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Hack reveals Democratic Congress members' phone numbers
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 11: Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., attends a news conference at the DNC where members of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, February 11, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Representative James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, speaks during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Thursday, July 28, 2016. Division among Democrats has been overcome through speeches from two presidents, another first lady and a vice-president, who raised the stakes for their candidate by warning that her opponent posed an unprecedented threat to American diplomacy. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - JUNE 29: Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., attends a rally with lawmakers and gun violence victims to call for action on gun safety measures on the steps of the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore, Md., June 29, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MAY 16: Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., speaks at a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on the Smith-Amash Amendment to the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act that would 'prevent the indefinite detention of and use of military custody for individuals detained on U.S. soil - including U.S. citizens - and ensure access to due process and the federal court system, as the Constitution provides.' (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 21: Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., speaks with a reporter at the Senate subway on Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., talks to reporters as members of the House of Representatives received a closed intelligence briefing from FBI Director James Comey and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson on the mass shooting at an LGBT club in Orlando, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., speaks during a commemoration ceremony for the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which abolished slavery in the United States, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Rep. Robert Brady, D-Penn., speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Monday, July 25, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-NY, speaks about the New York Police Department's stop and frisk policy, Thursday, June 7, 2012, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, speaks during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The statement by the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not blame the Russian government for hacking attempts against state election systems, but said "scanning and probing" of those systems originated in most cases from servers operated by a Russian company.

"These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process," the statement said. "However, we are not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government," the statement said.

The condemnation coincides with increasing tensions between Washington and Moscow on a range of international issues, from the Middle East to Ukraine and cyberspace.

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