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Clinton: 'No Doubt' Russia Hacked U.S. Political Groups

Images of U.S. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump behind a security fence where they debated in New York.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says there is "no doubt" that Russia has conducted cyberattacks against U.S. organizations and accused Republican rival Donald Trump of having "publicly invited" Russian President Vladimir Putin to hack American targets.

Clinton made the assertions in a tense first debate between the two candidates on September 26, while Trump said it is unclear who was behind the recent cyberattacks on political targets that Clinton cited.

"This is one of [Russia's] preferred methods of trying to wreak havoc and collect information," Clinton said. The debate was the first of three between the two candidates before the November 8 election.

Clinton said she was "shocked" when Trump suggested in July that that Russia should hack her e-mails, referring to correspondence that Clinton said she deleted because she considered them personal.

Trump later said he was "being sarcastic."

Trump, who has praised Putin as a strong leader and said he would improve ties with Russia, responded to Clinton's accusations by saying that "it could be Russia, but it could also be China..." behind the attacks.

Cyber security experts and U.S. officials have said they believe Russia engineered the release of embarrassing e-mails from Democratic party officials to influence the election.

Russian officials have dismissed the accusations.

With reporting by dpa, AP, and Reuters