USSIA-BRITAIN-SPY-FSB
Headquarters (aka Lubianka) of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the former KGB in Moscow, taken on 12 July 2007MAXIM MARMUR/AFP/Getty Images

Two members of the notorious Russian hacking group known as Shaltay Boltay have been sentenced to three years in jail this week (6 September) in the Moscow City Court, found guilty of illegally infiltrating computers to access – and leak - the emails of top Russian officials.

The two men, Konstantin Teplyakov and Alexander Filinov, were arrested in November last year alongside the group's ringleader, Vladimir Anikeyev. State media issued reports after the secretive closed door trial, revealing the men will be granted credit for time spend in custody.

The judge ruled they were part of Shaltay Boltay, which translates to Humpty Dumpty in English. The group was known to steal emails and trade them online.

They were accused of hacking the Twitter account of prime minister Dmitry Medvedev and the emails of high-profile targets including a presidential aide, a state TV presenter and banking chiefs.

Back in July, Anikeyev was sentenced to two years in a Russian penal colony for six counts of "illicit tampering" with government officials' personal data.

He testified against his former accomplices but in August 2017 an appeal against his sentence was denied.

The hacking group, not particularly well known outside of Europe, became prominent in Russia after publishing private documents of individuals with Kremlin links.

They became embroiled in further scandal – and eventually arrests – after the Federal Security Service, or FSB, successfully tracked them down.

Sources said the group did not disband, but was instead forced to collaborate with Russian intelligence in exchange for protection – a claim later denied by the authorities.

One former member of the group, Alexander Glazastikov, spoke out after going on the run.

The hackers were thrust into the spotlight after two cybercrime officials working for the FSB were detained by state law enforcement and accused of treason. Media reports from the time – never fully verified – claimed that the two law enforcement men were linked to the hackers.

Ruslan Stoyanov, a researcher with for Moscow-based cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab was also arrested last year under similar charges.

According to state outlet Tass, Natalya Zemskova, the lawyer representing Teplyakov and Filinov, branded the sentence "harsh" and has now pledged to appeal.