US indicts seven Russian intel agents in hacking conspiracy

Britain: Russian Military Intelligence Behind Cyberattacks

Four of the officers were charged with targeting the watchdog.

While the Russians were escorted out of the country, investigators uncovered evidence that they had been preparing to travel on to Switzerland to target the OPCW's laboratory in Spiez.

Prosecutors say the Russians also targeted a Pennsylvania-based nuclear energy company - the Westinghouse Electric Company, which is near Pittsburgh - and an global organization that was investigating chemical weapons in Syria and the poisoning of a former GRU officer. Dutch officials said it was not clear if the cyber operation was linked to that.

The building of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is pictured in The Hague, Netherlands, on October 4, 2018.

The Russian embassy in Ottawa said in a statement Thursday that the allegations are "fake news" and part of an "anti-Russia witch hunt" by the U.S., Britain and their "willing allies, including Canada".

On Thursday, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Russian ambassador and condemned Russia's "unacceptable" behavior with these attacks.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the accusations a "rich fantasy of our colleagues from Britain" that were "mixed in one perfume bottle". Also charged were Oleg Sotnikov, 46, and Alexey Minin, 46. Even more humiliating, they were detained together with all of their equipment - mobile phones, computers, etc - which, now that it has been thoroughly examined by Dutch and British intelligence officials, has revealed fascinating details of other GRU espionage operations, including the Dutch-led investigation into the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014 with the loss of 298 lives.

According to a presentation by the head of the Netherlands' military intelligence agency, four Russians arrived in the Netherlands on April 10 and were caught on the 13th with spying equipment at a hotel next to the OPCW headquarters. But not in this case: the Russians were nabbed in a hotel parking lot next to the OPCW office in a vehicle packed with gear created to tap into the agency's Wi-Fi network.

When Dutch agents swooped on April 13 they found electronic equipment in the boot of the vehicle to intercept the OPCW's wifi and log in codes, including an antenna hidden in the back of the auto and facing the chemical weapons watchdog.




Dutch agents then swooped on the men.

Britain helped the Netherlands with the operation, they added.

"We worked closely with our worldwide partners to identify the actors and disrupt their criminal campaign - and today, we are sending this message: The FBI will not permit any government, group, or individual to threaten our people, our country, or our partners".

"They were clearly not here on holiday", said Eichelsheim. "It was not a criminal inquiry", Rutte told a weekly news conference when asked why the men were not arrested.

"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", the NCSC claimed in a statement.

A USA grand jury today indicted seven defendants, all officers in the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), for hacking, wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.

Batches of DNC emails were later published by WikiLeaks.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the United Kingdom was discussing further sanctions against Russian Federation with its allies.

Britain's Tour de France victor Sir Bradley Wiggins was left fighting to save his reputation after it emerged he had been given permission to use banned substance triamcinolone.

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