USA charges Russian GRU officers with hacking athletes, nuclear power company

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USA charges Russian GRU officers with hacking athletes, nuclear power company

Dutch authorities said they had disrupted the attempt to hack into the Hague-based OPCW in April, a time when the watchdog was looking into both the attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Britain and chemical strikes in Syria the West has blamed on Russia's ally President Bashar al-Assad.

Britain and the Netherlands accused Russian Federation of sending agents with wi-fi antennas to the Hague to try to hack into the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) while it was investigating an attack on an ex-spy in England.

Moscow has angrily dismissed the allegations - saying they were part of the West's "spy mania".

"This attempt to access the secure systems of an worldwide organisation working to rid the world of chemical weapons, demonstrates the GRU's disregard for the global values and rules that keep us safe".

The hackers leaked medical information and emails stolen from officials from 40 anti-doping and sporting organizations.

Three of the defendants are also charged with hacking US citizens in relation to the 2016 election, though officials said that doesn't appear related to the ongoing investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that's looking for evidence of cooperation between Moscow and President Donald Trump's campaign.

"We want the hundreds of victims of these Russian hackers to know that we will do everything we can to hold these criminals accountable for their crimes", said Scott Brady, US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, where the grand jury indicted the Russians.

The four Russians allegedly involved in the OPCW attack were included in the list of seven men indicted by the US Justice Department.

She noted that the U.S. Department of Justice is expected to issue indictments of suspected Russian spies later on Thursday, in part due to information gleaned from the Dutch operation.

And some are hoping - after Brexit - to exploit Britain's absence from the European Union to weaken sanctions next time they have to be agreed.

Canada added its voice to the coordinated effort to expose alleged Russian cyber attacks, and confirmed that a parallel investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was ongoing.

Four Russian officers of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, GRU, are escorted to their flight after being expelled from the Netherlands on April 13, 2018, for allegedly trying to hack into the United Nations chemical watchdog OPCW's network.

When the men were intercepted they tried to destroy one of the mobile phones they were carrying, Maj Gen Eichelsheim said.

The Netherlands released copies of their passports which identified them as Alexey Minin, Oleg Sotnikov, Evgenii Serebriakov and Aleksei Morenets, all in their 30s or 40s. The UK's ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Wilson, said the unit had "sent officers around the world to conduct brazen close access cyber-operations" - which involve hacking into wifi networks.

A laptop seized from the suspects was found to have been used in Brazil, Switzerland and Malaysia, the Dutch officials said.

The indictment said that the Russian agents targeted global anti-doping monitors in the wake of revelations that Russia had engaged in a state-backed doping effort to help its athletes during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

In recent years the GRU has been accused of undercover involvement in the conflict in Ukraine, which saw the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Wilson said the group had also carried out attacks on the UK Foreign Office and Porton Down Defence and Science Laboratory in the wake of the Skripal poisoning.

United Kingdom investigative website Bellingcat last week claimed to have identified one of the two suspects as a highly decorated officer in the Russian military.

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