Russian Hackers in The Netherlands

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After the Russian Governments intervention in Salisbury where they were suspected of being the poisoners of the Skripals and then their farcical denial of the poisoner’s identities, they have the nerve to repeat the farce in response to the Dutch throwing out four suspected hackers for allegedly spying on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The Russian Foreign Minister laughably said that the suspected hackers were on holiday. The four men were expelled last April after agents from the Dutch military intelligence service, the MIVD, intercepted them in The Hague as they tried to hack into the OPCW. The MIVD said they had rigged up an antenna in the back of a rented Citroën C3 which was parked outside the Marriott Hotel, for a close access hacking operation.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Lavrov said there was nothing covert or suspicious about the men’s activities. Though I’m not so sure that rigging up an antenna is not suspicious.

He added that the four men had been thrown out of the country without any explanation or being given a chance to contact the Russian Embassy. The Dutch Ambassador in Moscow was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to explain the events. The four men, two IT specialists and two support workers, arrived at Schiphol airport on April 11 on diplomatic passports, hired a Citroen C3 and checked into a Hotel. A laptop that they surrendered on departure indicated that they had recently been in Malaysia, which is playing a key role in investigating the shooting down of flight MH17, and the Swiss city of Lausanne, home of the world anti-doping agency WADA.

WADA is currently investigating drug taking in Russian sport, while the OPCW is testing chemicals used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Lavrov suggested that the news of the expulsion of the Russians in April had been made public now to divert attention from the NATO defence ministers’ meeting. However the Dutch government said it had chosen to disclose the details after learning that the United States was about to charge seven Russian intelligence officers, including the four intercepted in The Hague, with cyber-hacking offences.

It is incredible that the four men were not arrested and put on trial for their activities in The Netherlands. I suppose they would have claimed diplomatic immunity anyway so would be untouchable. My view is that the Dutch Government doesn’t want to fall out with Russia, though after the horrors that Russia is alleged to have commited of late begs the question as why any nation would respect them.

Russia’s contempt for international law is becoming a joke.

What can the West do to stop cyber hacking activity that comes from Russia?

Or do we acknowledge that this is not being done by the Russian Government?

Who do we believe?

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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