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US government charges seven Russian intelligence officers with hacking: AP

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US government charges seven Russian intelligence officers with hacking: AP

US government charges seven Russian intelligence officers with hacking: AP
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REUTERS
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The US Justice Department has charged seven Russian military intelligence officers with hacking international anti-doping organisations.

An indictment announced in Washington on Thursday said Russia's military intelligence agency (GRU) targeted anti-doping agencies that supported a ban on Russian athletes in international sports competitions and denounced Russia's athlete doping programme.

According to prosecutors, the Russians also targeted a nuclear energy company based in Pennsylvania and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John Demers listens during a press conference to announce an indictment charging seven Russian military officers with malicious cyber activities against the U.S. and its allies at the Department of Justice in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Earlier, the Dutch government announced they disrupted an attempt in April by the Russian intelligence service to hack the OPCW.

The statement was made at a news conference on Thursday by Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld who called on Russia "to stop its cyber activities aimed at undermining Western democracies".

According to the head of the Netherlands' military intelligence agency, four Russians were caught with spying equipment in a hotel near the OPCW headquarters in The Hague on April 10.

Around that time, the OPCW was working on verifying the identity of the substance used in the attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, UK.

The four Russians were detained three days later and sent back to Russia, according to Dutch Major General Onno Eichelsheim, who added they had planned to travel to a laboratory in Spiez, Switzerland, which is used by the chemical weapons watchdog to analyse the samples.

The Russian ambassador to the Netherlands has been summoned to the foreign ministry for an explanation, said Bijleveld.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's official Twitter account tweeted "NATO stands in solidarity with the Dutch and UK governments in calling out Russia on its cyber attacks against OPCW."

In September, the OPCW confirmed that the substance that killed 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess in Amesbury, UK, was the same Novichok nerve agent that poisoned the Skripals.