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Russian trolls are innocent because they didn't know election interference was illegal, their lawyers say

The Russians accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential election can't be convicted because they didn't know that political interference was illegal, their lawyers have argued.

Using this dubious defense, attorneys are hoping to free Russian nationals who worked for the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-backed troll farm that spread online propaganda, The Daily Beast reported Monday. Thirteen Russians have been indicted as part of the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, accused of conspiring to defraud the U.S. and spreading false information to sway the 2016 election. But some of those Russians are saying they've been accused of "make-believe crimes" because they are foreign nationals unfamiliar with U.S. law.

Mueller's team hasn't proved that the Russian trolls "acted willfully" in violation of election policies, their lawyers argue. The Russians have been indicted in an "unprecedented" case, a legal filing read, in legal peril for "not complying with certain regulatory requirements that are unknown even to most Americans."

Lawyers argue that because the Russians didn't know they were breaking the law, their work in spreading false stories about then-candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) can't be considered conspiracy. Read more at The Daily Beast.