USA charges seven Russian spies over cyber-hacking

Logo for Russia's GRU intelligence agency

Image The GRUis Russia's largest foreign intelligence agency

The Dutch also accused the Russian agency of trying to hack into the investigation of the 2014 downing of a Malaysian Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine that killed all 298 people on board.

The report did not reveal the nature of the cyber-attacks or whether these were successful.

"We remain very alert about this", she said.

On Thursday, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Russian ambassador and condemned Russia's "unacceptable" behavior with these attacks. "This pattern of behavior demonstrates their desire to operate without regard to global law or established norms and to do so with a feeling of impunity and without consequences". "And that's what happened today", he told reporters in Saskatchewan.

The British ambassador to the Netherlands said that the men caught with spy gear outside The Hague-based OPCW, for example, were from the very same GRU section (Unit 26165) accused by American investigators of having broken into the Democratic National Committee's email and sowing havoc during the 2016 United States presidential election.

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.

At the time the Russian operation was disrupted, the OPCW was investigating the Skripal case as well as an alleged chemical attack in April on the Syrian town of Douma near Damascus by Russian-backed government forces, the MIVD said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte released a joint statement, saying the attacks "demonstrate again the GRU's disregard for the global values and rules that keep us all safe".

Its foreign ministry has said a statement would follow shortly after it dismissed the earlier allegations from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands as "Western spy mania. picking up pace".

The US Department of Justice brought the charges, which include computer hacking, wire fraud, money laundering, and identity theft. John Demers, assistant attorney general for the national security division of the DOJ, accused the Russian officers of using hacking to "distract from their own government's wrongdoing". According to the evidence produced on Thursday at a press conference hosted by Dutch and British officials, this hapless crew used publicly accessible Wi-Fi hotspots, meaning that their login details were easily traceable.

Spy agencies around the world now have a database of Russian cyber spies - because two of the men caught in The Hague had diplomatic passports using their real names and dates of birth.

The British ambassador to the Netherlands said the men caught with spy gear outside OPCW were from the very same GRU section (Unit 26165) accused by American investigators of having broken into the Democratic National Committee's email system before the 2016 U.S. election.

On April 13 they parked a auto carrying specialist hacking equipment outside the headquarters of the OPCW in the The Hague.

In total 250 athletes and anti-doping sports organisations were targeted, it has been reported, in hacks that began in December 2014 and continued until May 2018.

The allegation came hours after Britain and Australia separately blamed the GRU for some major hacking plots including the US Democratic Party and world sport's anti-Doping authority.

"They try to undermine and interfere in elections in other countries; they are even prepared to damage Russian companies and Russian citizens", adding the attacks had caused millions of British pounds in damage to national economies.

He said the Government would now be entering into discussions with allies on what new sanctions could be imposed against the Kremlin.

In July, a grand jury charged a dozen Russian intelligence officers over the Kremlin's election meddling.

They have been named as Ivan Segeyevich Yermakov, Aleksei Sergeyevich Morenets, Alexey Valerich Mirin, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Evgenii Mikhaylovich Serebriakov and Oleg Mikhaylovich Sotnikov.

"We are going to actually make it clear that where Russian Federation acts, we are going to be exposing that action", Williamson said.

Latest News