United States indicts seven Russian spies in ‘doping scandal hack’

05 October, 2018, 00:29 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Main building of the OPCW in The Hague

Moscow on Thursday rejected the accusations, saying they were unworthy and part of a disinformation campaign created to damage Russian interests.

The Netherlands has accused four Russians of plotting to hack the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which had been probing the chemical attack on a Russian ex-spy in the UK.

Prime minister Mark Rutte issued a joint statement with his British counterpart Theresa May earlier in the day condemning Russia's 'disregard for global values'.

The Russians were tracked from their arrival in Amsterdam on diplomatic passports in April, and then seen hiring a Citroen auto which they parked outside the Marriott hotel next to the OPCW.

On Thursday, Stoltenberg warned Russian Federation to halt its "reckless" behavior, after the Netherlands announced it had foiled a Kremlin cyberattack on the global chemical weapons watchdog.

Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld made the allegation at a press conference in the Hague, saying Dutch authorities disrupted the attempt by Russian intelligence agents in April. Some of their mobile phones were also activated in Moscow near the agency's headquarters.

In Malaysia, the Dutch said, it was used to target the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014 over territory held by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.

It was also reported that the two agents had been planning to travel on to the OPCW-registered laboratory in Spiez near Berne. British and Dutch cybersecurity experts were able to fend off the attack.

When leaving The Hague, the men took all the rubbish from their room in a further bid to cover their tracks.

The OPCW confirmed it had suffered "increased cyber-related activities" since the beginning of the year and had "undertaken measures to mitigate them".

John Demers, the Justice Department's top national security official, said the new indictment didn't arise out of Mueller's investigation.


The accusations were levelled nearly simultaneously by the USA, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Canada - and included charges about alleged attacks on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Anti-Doping Agency, among others.

"The actions of these seven hackers, all working as officials for the Russian government, were criminal, retaliatory, and damaging to innocent victims and the United States' economy, as well as to world organizations", said said Federal Bureau of Investigation director Christopher Wray.

NATO's chief vowed on Thursday to strengthen the alliance's defences against attacks on computer networks that Britain said are directed by Russian military intelligence, also calling on Russia to stop its "reckless" behaviour.

Earlier Thursday, Britain, Australia and New Zealand accused Russian military intelligence of carrying out a worldwide campaign of "malicious" cyber attacks, including the hacking of the US Democratic National Committee in 2016.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has identified that a number of cyber actors widely known to have been conducting cyber attacks around the world are, in fact, the GRU.

"This is not the actions of a great power; this is the actions of a pariah state", British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said during a visit to Brussels.

Apparently unsuccessful in the effort from afar, two of the GRU spies flew to Rio to hack the Wi-Fi networks used by anti-doping officials in their hotels and elsewhere, officials said.

"That's a hell of a mix for a perfume", she told reporters.

Fancy Bear, which has also been studied by private security firms, has been active for at least 10 years and has chiefly targeted Western governments and other organisations in apparent furtherance of Russian foreign policy objectives.

Dr Dan Lomas, programme lead for Intelligence and Security Studies at the University of Salford, made his remarks after the United Kingdom government accused the GRU, Russia's military intelligence service, of four high-profile cyber-attacks.

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