Russian GRU agents 'caught hacking chemical weapons watchdog'

Russian GRU agents 'caught hacking chemical weapons watchdog'

Russian GRU agents 'caught hacking chemical weapons watchdog'

The four meant to fly from there to Switzerland to target the Spiez Swiss Chemical Laboratory, which was analysing military nerve agents, including the Novichok chemical agent that Britain said was used to poison former GRU officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England in March.

The Russians set up a vehicle full of electronic equipment in the auto park of a hotel next to the Organisation for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons in The Hague in a bid to hack its computer system, it said.

The global organization was investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the poisoning of former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury in March.

The coordinated actions by both countries came hours before an expected US indictment involving Russian attempts to hack into computer systems.

Four Russians arrived in the Netherlands on April 10 and were caught three days later with spying equipment at a hotel located next to the OPCW headquarters, the Dutch military intelligence agency said.

TRT World spoke to Lucy Taylor in Moscow for more details.

As well as the equipment in the auto, a laptop seized from the suspects was found to have been used in Brazil, Switzerland and Malaysia.

The Dutch and British blamed Russia's GRU for "brazen" activities across the globe and for trying to cover up Russia's alleged participation in the nerve agent poisoning in March of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, and the downing of MH17 over Ukraine that killing all 298 people on board - including 27 Australians - during a period of intense fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia rebels.

The Dutch government said the Russians were later found with a auto full of electronic equipment in the vehicle park of a hotel close to the OPCW building.

They arrived in the country on April 10 on diplomatic passports with nearly identical serial numbers.

When the men were intercepted they tried to destroy one of the mobile phones they were carrying.

They hired a Citroen C3 auto on April 11 and were seen to be scouting the area close by, all the while they were being monitored by the Dutch intelligence services.

They were disrupted while an attempt was made at a "close access hack operation" at around 4.30pm on Friday.

Eichelsheim said the four agents were operating out of a Citroen auto parked outside the Marriott Hotel, which is next to the organisations headquarters on Johann de Wittlaan.

The equipment included an antenna which was hidden under a waterproof jacket and aimed at the OPCW office. "It was a successful operation". On Wednesday, the Russian leader took a sharper done against the ex-Russian spy, referring to him as a "scumbag". Between 2016 and 2018 they also exchanged emails and private messages with some 186 reporters "in an apparent attempt to amplify the exposure and effect of their message", the Justice Department said in a news release.

News of the Dutch operation came a day after Britain and Australia blamed the GRU for some of the biggest cyber attacks of recent years - including one on the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 USA presidential campaign.

The Department of Justice hit hackers with charges Thursday. Russian Federation has denied the charges. He told US President Donald Trump during a July summit in Helsinki that talk of Russian Federation meddling in the 2016 election was "nonsense".

Britain and the Netherlands have accused Russian Federation of running a global campaign of cyberattacks to undermine democracies.

Russian Federation denied what its Foreign Ministry spokeswoman called a "diabolical perfume cocktail" of allegations dreamt up by someone with a "rich imagination".

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

"The GRU's actions are reckless and indiscriminate: they try to undermine and interfere in elections" in a clear assault on Western democracy, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in releasing the report.

"NATO will continue to strengthen its defence and deterrence to deal with hybrid threats, including in the cyber domain", he added as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence ministers met to discuss new offensive cyber capabilities.

Canada confirmed Thursday it believes itself to have been targeted by Russian cyber attacks, citing breaches at its center for ethics in sports and at the Montreal-based WADA.

The officials alleged that the hackers even travelled to The Hague in the Netherlands in an attempt to conduct a close-proximity hack of the organization's anti-doping branch when such a cyberattack proved hard to conduct from afar.

The British National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) also identified numerous hacking groups, including APT28, Pawn Storm, Sandworm, Fancy Bear and the Sofacy Group, as being associated with the GRU.

"This is not the actions of a great power".

"This is not the actions of a great power, this is the actions of a pariah state and we'll continue working with allies to isolate, make them understand they can not continue to conduct themselves in such a way", Williamson told reporters in Brussels. "The global community - including Russian Federation - has agreed that worldwide law and norms of responsible state behaviour apply in cyberspace", they said in a statement.

"This is unacceptable and the Australian government calls on all countries, including Russian Federation, to refrain from these types of malicious activities", the prime minister wrote in a statement.

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