Two suspected Russian spies who ‘tried to hack a Swiss laboratory investigating the Novichock used to poison Sergei Skripal,’ were arrested earlier this year, it has been claimed.
Swiss authorities said on Friday that the Netherlands arrested and expelled two suspects, according to Swiss publication Tages-Anzeiger.
Spiez, which conducts test for the UN-backed chemical weapons watchdog, near Bern was analysing samples from the March poisoning of the former Russian double agent and his daughter in the UK.
The ‘spies targeted Spiez Laboratory’, Swiss Federal Institute for NBC-Protection (nuclear, biological, chemical) (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)The suspected spies, who are not the same men accused by Britain of carrying out the attack, are now being investigated.
Mother and baby killed as Hurricane Florence sends tree crashing onto their houseThe men were returned to Russia following the arrest.
The Federal Intelligence Service says it worked ‘actively’ with British and Dutch partners on the case involving Switzerland’s Spiez Laboratory.
Russia’s foreign minister said earlier this year that the lab analysed samples linked to the attack on the Skripals in Salisbury.
The confirmation came after Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad and Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported that two Russians suspected of being agents of military intelligence service GRU were kicked out of the Netherlands earlier this year as a result of a Europe-wide investigation.
The lab was investigated the Novichok used in the attempted murder og Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)FIS spokeswoman Isabelle Graber: ‘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 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,’ she added, while declining to comment further.
The Swiss attorney general’s office confirmed it had identified ‘two individuals’ as part of a broader investigation opened last year.
Dawn Sturgess was killed by the nerve agent after her partner Charles Rowley found a perfume bottle with it. He was rushed to hospital but survived the poisoning (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)Switzerland’s foreign ministry said it summoned Russia’s ambassador on Friday to ‘protest against this attempted attack’ and demanded that Russia ‘immediately’ end its spying activities on Swiss soil.
Winery owner wishes ‘slow and painful death’ on thieves who stole his entire harvestAndreas Bucher, a spokesman for the laboratory, declined to comment on the expulsions, but added: ‘We have had indications that we have been in the crosshairs of hackers in the last few months.’
He said the lab had taken precautions, and no data was lost.
The Russian state news agency Tass quoted Stanislav Smirnov, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Switzerland, as calling the Dutch news report ‘absurd.’
‘We believe that this is a new anti-Russian bogus story made up by the Western media,’ he was quoted as saying, alluding to the events that took place six months ago.
The arrested ‘spies’ were not ‘Alexander Petrov’ (left) and ‘Ruslan Boshirov’, who have been accused by the UK of carrying out the attack (Picture: PA)
The men said they were on holiday in Salisbury (Picture: TASS)‘We have seen this article and it gives rise to a lot of questions… It is absurd, just new groundless allegations.’
‘Alexander Petrov’ and ‘Ruslan Boshirov’, the suspected Salisbury attackers, have been ridiculed after claiming they visited the unlikely tourist destination on the recommendation of friends.
The pair said they travelled more than 1,000 miles to see Salisbury Cathedral but were turned back by slush and snow before returning the next day for two hours exploring the ‘beautiful’ city.
Their unlikely story has been branded ‘lies and blatant fabrication’ by Theresa May after they appeared on the Kremlin-funded RT channel yesterday to proclaim their innocence and deny they were agents of the GRU.
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