Holland 'expelled Russian spies' over bid to hack lab

THE HAGUE • Dutch intelligence services arrested two alleged Russian spies on suspicion of planning to hack a Swiss laboratory investigating the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal, reports say.

The two agents, believed to be working for Russia's GRU military intelligence service, targeted the Spiez laboratory near Bern, Dutch-based NRC newspaper and Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger said last Friday. They were arrested earlier this year and then expelled by the Netherlands, they said.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned the reports, saying he could not believe the arrests would have not have been picked up then by the media.

The two were detained "early this year" by Dutch military intelligence working together with several other countries, and then expelled from the Netherlands, the newspapers reported.

"The duo, according to sources within the investigation, carried equipment which they wanted to use to break into the computer network" of the Spiez laboratory.

At the time, Spiez was analysing data related to poison gas attacks in Syria, as well as the March 4 attack using the nerve agent Novichok on Mr Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, they reported.

The laboratory does analytical work for the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 16, 2018, with the headline 'Holland 'expelled Russian spies' over bid to hack lab'. Print Edition | Subscribe