'Big hunt' for Russian hackers, but no obvious election link

The U.S. has orchestrated the arrest of five suspected Russian cybercriminals across Europe in the past nine months.

The operations come at a fraught moment in relations between Russia and the U.S., where politicians are grappling with the allegation that Kremlin hackers intervened in the 2016 presidential election to help Donald Trump.

Through their lawyers, several defendants have suggested their arrests were linked to the election turmoil. Experts say that's possible, though an Associated Press review of the cases found no firm evidence to back the claim.

The most well-known of those arrested is Pyotr Levashov, accused of being a master spammer who went by the name Peter Severa.