WADA targeted by Russian military intelligence service GRU, says United Kingdom government

06 October, 2018, 14:42 | Author: Kim Reid
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A Russian military intelligence (GRU) spying operation on the body responsible for investigating chemical weapons was thwarted by Dutch and United Kingdom authorities in April of this year.

The Joint Investigation Team headed by the Dutch Ministry of Justice, eventually indicated the plane may have been down by pro-Russian rebels fighting against the Ukrainian government, which Moscow has denied.

Several countries gave detailed information of how Russia's GRU military intelligence agency has allegedly been trying to disrupt global organisations.

In May 2014, the Justice Department indicted five Chinese military hackers who targeted USA -based nuclear power, metals and solar sectors.

"Basically, the Russians got caught with their equipment, with people who were doing it and they have to pay the piper, they are going to have to be held to account". Putin's spokesman said Britain and its allies making the claims were "obsessed with hysteria, spy mania and Russophobia". And their allies around the world issued stark assessments of what they described as a campaign of hacking by Russia's GRU military intelligence agency.

The victims included about 250 athletes from 30 countries, along with anti-doping agencies around the world.

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The BBC report also said countries worldwide including the USA, the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands suspect that Moscow coordinated various espionage attacks that span election hacking, disrupting anti-doping probes, and an attack on an American nuclear power firm. They include four GRU agents expelled last spring from the Netherlands. Gen. Onno Eichelsheim, named the four alleged officers as Aleksei Morenets and Evgenii Serebriakov - who had very similar passport numbers, he said - Oleg Sotnikov and Alexey Minin.

"Today we are indicting seven GRU officers for multiple felonies each, including the use of hacking to spread the personal information of hundreds of anti-doping officials and athletes as part of an effort to distract from Russia's state-sponsored doping program", Sessions said.

Dutch intelligence thwarted a Russian cyber attack targeting the global chemical weapons watchdog in April and expelled four Russian agents, the government said on Thursday.

The hack and release of sports figures' medical data in 2016 and the downing of Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 also allegedly carry the GRU's fingerprints. No Russian TUEs were published, though Russian athletes like swimmer Yulia Efimova have said they too used the TUE system.

Russia's interests were at stake in both cases.

On Thursday the Foreign Office, Dutch authorities and US Department of Justice disclosed information on a number of malicious cyber activities allegedly conducted by Russian Federation.

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Meanwhile in a separate announcement yesterday Britain's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) accused the GRU of being responsible for the Fancy Bears cyber attack on the World Anti-Doping Agency, which took place in September 2016.

The GRU, now officially known in Russian Federation by a shorter acronym GU, is also the agency Britain has blamed for the attack on former GRU spy Skripal with a nerve agent sprayed on his door. Britain blames the secretive agency for the March poisoning of Skripal and his daughter.

The Dutch authorities released CCTV imagery of the four men arriving at Schipol Airport as well photographs of their passports.

The West appeared to have made a coordinated response to the alleged Russian hacking, with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief Jens Stoltenberg separately warning Russia to halt its "reckless" behaviour and the European Union condemning "aggressive" Russian spying.

"This is not the actions of a great power, these are the actions of a pariah state", British defence secretary Gavin Williamson said.

"The Dutch government finds the involvement of these intelligence operatives extremely worrisome", Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld told a news conference.

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