Russian hackers accused of targeting United Nations chemical weapons watchdog, MH17 files

Russian hackers accused of targeting United Nations chemical weapons watchdog, MH17 files

A newly-published indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice charges seven alleged Russian intelligence agents with using cryptocurrencies as part of a broad "influence and disinformation" scheme.

Three of the defendants were also charged in the hacking of United States persons involved in the 2016 election, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John Demers said during a news conference, but the current indictment does not arise out of special counsel Robert Mueller's work.

And now, the United Kingdom and the Dutch governments have revealed a huge amount of new intelligence about how the GRU has been operating across the world, namely its attempts to hack the OPCW chemical weapons inspectors' headquarters in the Hague, the computers of the Foreign Office in London and the work of the Porton Down military laboratories in Wiltshire.

Russian intelligence service, the GRU, has been accused of launching a cyber attack on the global chemical weapons watchdog which is investigating the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

After talks with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense ministers in Brussels on Thursday, Mattis said: "We are ready today to provide cyber-support to our allies. How we respond is a political decision by the nations involved", Mattis said after a meeting with his North Atlantic Treaty Organisation counterparts, although he said there would not necessarily be a "tit-for-tat" response by the West.

The Russian embassy in Ottawa said in a statement Thursday that the allegations are "fake news" and part of an "anti-Russia witch hunt" by the U.S., Britain and their "willing allies, including Canada".

Agents say they all belong to the Russian Federation state-sponsored hacking group known as "Fancy Bear".

In September 2016, medical data of 250 athletes was released following a hack.

The U.S. will announce indictments against several Russian intelligence officers on Thursday, the Dutch ministry said.

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Moscow has issued the latest in a series of denials, but the allegations leveled by Western intelligence agencies, supported by a wealth of surveillance footage and overwhelmingly confirmed by independent reporting, paint a picture of the GRU as an agency that routinely crosses red lines - and is increasingly being caught red-handed.

The GRU campaign ran from December 2014 until at least May 2018, targeting U.S. persons, corporations and worldwide organisations based on their strategic interest to the Russian government, officials said.

Ms Bijleveld also accused the men of attempting to access investigation files related to the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine.

Russia's interests were at stake in both cases.

Speaking about the Russian intelligence service GRU, Mr Wilson said it was a "well-funded" unit of the Russian state and that it was behaving "aggressively across the world" and "with apparent impunity".

Canada said Thursday it too was targeted by Russian cyber attacks, citing breaches at its centre for ethics in sports and at the Montreal-based World Anti-doping Agency, after allies blamed Moscow for some of the biggest hacking plots of recent years.

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the UK's Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted: "The catalogue of evidence shows why the Dutch are excellent partners and that the decades of theft have stripped Russia's intelligence of the skills they once had".

Details were revealed on Thursday after the UK Government accused the GRU of a wave of other cyber attacks across the globe. In some of the filings, Minin listed the official military unit number of the GRU school as his home address.

"It is evident from the allegations in today's indictment that the defendants believed that they could use their perceived anonymity to act with impunity, in their own countries and on territories of other sovereign nations, to undermine global institutions to distract from their government's own malfeasance", said John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

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