Russians suspected of Salisbury attack attempted to hack Swiss lab investigating Skripal poisoning
The two Russian men suspected by the UK of poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripal were arrested in the Netherlands in March on their way to Switzerland in possession of equipment to break into the computer network of a laboratory where samples relating to the Skripal case were being tested, according to Dutch and Swiss media reports.
Spiez Laboratory near Bern, which is regularly mandated by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), was conducting analyzes on the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on 4 March in Salisbury. The lab has also investigated the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
The two men were arrested at the end of March, according to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who gave no further details on the case or the identity of those involved. The operation was conducted by the Dutch Military Intelligence (MIVD), in cooperation with European services. The Swiss intelligence service (NDB) confirmed the arrest of two spies. The arrests prevented “illegal actions against sensitive infrastructure” and resulted from “active cooperation” with Dutch and British partners, said Rutte.
Swiss authorities opened a criminal investigation into the case in March.
The Spiez laboratory, inaugurated in 2010, is attached to the Federal Office for Protection of the Population and specialises in the study of nuclear, bacteriological and chemical threats. The OPCW had entrusted it with the task of verifying samples taken from Salisbury and confirming the possible use of the Novichok nerve agent.
In an interview with Russian TV channel RT, Ruslan Bochirov and Alexander Petrov, the two Russians suspected by London of being military intelligence agents responsible for the Skripal poisonings denied any involvement in this case.