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

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

The US Justice Department said the seven alleged GRU members indicted on Thursday had targeted not only the OPCW but also the US Democratic Party, world footballing body FIFA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and US nuclear energy company Westinghouse.

Russian military intelligence (GRU) used a network of hackers across the world to attack a wide range of targets, including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Netherlands and the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said.

In Washington, the USA criminal indictment targeted seven GRU officers, including three who had been previously charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for their role in allegedly interfering in US elections.

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.

The Russians were tracked from their arrival in Amsterdam on diplomatic passports in April, and then seen hiring a Citroen vehicle which they parked outside the Marriott hotel next to the OPCW.

The Dutch and British prime ministers Mark Rutte and Theresa May in a joint statement accused the GRU of "disregard for global values" and lashed out at the Russian agency's "unacceptable cyber activities".

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Some of the most detailed accusations came from the Dutch authorities.

The GRU is the agency Britain has blamed for sending two agents to kill Mr Skripal - himself a former GRU agent - with a nerve agent sprayed on his door. Moscow says he is a Russian parliamentary staff member and has demanded Oslo lift the "absurd charges". The men, said Onno Eichelsheim, director of the MIVD Dutch military intelligence and security service, were clearly "not on holiday" - an excuse given for two Russians accused of trying to murder Sergei Skripal.

Thursday's announcement comes after Mueller indicted 12 GRU officers in July for allegedly conducting a "sustained effort" to hack Democrats' emails and computer networks.

However, Russia's interests were at stake in both cases: the OPCW was investigating reports that a Soviet-made nerve agent had been used against a Russian ex-spy in England, and Russia has been blamed by some for being involved in shooting down MH17.

News of the Dutch operation came a day after Britain and Australia blamed the GRU for some of the biggest cyber attacks of recent years - including one on the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 USA presidential campaign.

'Our message is clear - together with our allies, we will expose and respond to the GRU's attempts to undermine worldwide stability'.

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In addition to Apple and Amazon, nearly 30 companies were affected by the breach, including a major bank and government contractors.

The Dutch intelligence services held a press conference on Thursday revealing details of what they claim was a Russian operation to infiltrate the OPCW, as it investigated the attempt to poison a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom this year.

Skripal, his daughter and a police officer fell seriously ill and a British woman later died after her partner found the poison in a discarded perfume bottle.

The Dutch government said it had summoned the Russian ambassador over the incident.

"Where Russia acts in an indiscriminate and reckless way, where they have done in terms of these cyberattacks, we will be exposing them", Williamson told reporters in Brussels at talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation counterparts. Russian agents targeted anti-doping organizations to gather information to undermine the investigation and embarrass non-Russian athletes.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he welcomed the United Kingdom and the Netherlands joining Australia in slamming Russia's behaviour.

Commentators say the revelations suggest that Russian spies have been surprisingly amateur in their operations - or that Moscow is becoming increasingly brazen in stepping up a hybrid cyber war on the West.

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