İrem UZUN -TDO- The United States has charged three North Korean computer programmers— who are also military intelligence officials, with a massive hacking spree aimed at stealing more than $1.3 billion in money and cryptocurrency, affecting companies from banks to Hollywood movie studios, the Department of Justice said on Wednesday.

The Justice Department accused Jon Chang Hyok, 31, Kim Il, 27, and Park Jin Hyok, 36, of stealing money while working for North Korean military intelligence's hacking-focused Reconnaissance General Bureau, better known within the cybersecurity community as the Lazarus Group. The case filed in a Los Angeles federal court builds on 2018 charges against Park. He had previously been charged with the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and the creation of the destructive WannaCry ransomware in 2017. "As laid out in today's indictment, North Korea's operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world's leading bank robbers," Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department's top national security official, told reporters. 

None of the three defendants is in American custody, and though officials don't expect them to travel to the U.S. anytime soon for prosecution, the Justice Department finds value in these indictments as a message to hackers that they are not anonymous and can be identified.

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