US charges Russian in Ukraine hack, offers $10 million reward

Man holds laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Russian was charged with conspiring to hack and destroy computer systems and data in Ukraine and allied countries including the United States, the Justice Department said on Wednesday, and announced a $10 million reward for information.

A federal grand jury in Maryland returned an indictment against Amin Timovich Stigal, 22, on Tuesday, the department said in a statement.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the hacking targets included Kyiv's government systems and data with no military-related role, the department said. Computer systems in the United States and other countries that provided support to Ukraine were targeted later, it said.

Stigal remains at large. The U.S. State Department is offering up to $10 million for information on Stigal's location or malicious cyberactivity, the statement said.

"As alleged, the defendant conspired with Russian military intelligence on the eve of Russia’s unjust and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine to launch cyberattacks targeting the Ukrainian government and later targeting its allies, including the United States," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in the statement.

In January of 2022, Stigal and members of Russia's intelligence service conspired to use a U.S.-based company to distribute malware known as "WisperGate" to Ukrainian government computer systems to destroy the systems and related data, the Justice Department said.

That August, the same group hacked the transportation infrastructure of an unidentified central European country that was supporting Ukraine, it said.

The hackers also probed computers of a federal government agency in Maryland, the statement said without identifying the agency.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bill Berkrot)