Dutch expelled Russian spies over alleged novichok lab hacking plot

Sep 15, 2018, 08:14 IST | Agencies

Two men were arrested over alleged plan to infiltrate lab where Salisbury nerve agent was analysed

Dutch expelled Russian spies over alleged novichok lab hacking plot
The two men were arrested in The Hague. Pic/AFP

The Dutch government expelled two alleged Russian spies this year after they were accused of planning to hack into a Swiss chemicals laboratory where novichok nerve agent samples from the Salisbury attack were analysed, it has emerged.

The men were arrested in The Hague as part of an operation involving British, Swiss and Dutch intelligence agencies. The Swiss daily newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported that the men were carrying equipment that could be used to break into the Spiez laboratory's IT network when they were seized.

Isabelle Graber, the head of communications at the Swiss intelligence service, the FIS, said in a statement issued to the Guardian: "The Swiss authorities are aware of the case of Russian spies discovered in The Hague and expelled from the same place. "The Swiss Federal Intelligence Service [FIS] participated actively in this operation together with its Dutch and British partners. The FIS has thus contributed to the prevention of illegal actions against a critical Swiss infrastructure."

Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for MI6, and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned in Salisbury on 4 March. The Spiez laboratory subsequently confirmed a British claim that the Skripals had been victims of the military-grade nerve agent novichok. The laboratory has also been investigating poison gas attacks by the Syrian regime backed by the Kremlin.

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