Dutch intelligence caught 2 Russians planning to hack Novichok lab

Two Russian Agents 'Tried To Spy On Lab Where Salisbury Novichok Was Being Tested'

The newspaper said the two suspects were not the same men accused by Britain last week of trying to kill Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain in March.

Isabelle Graber, head of communications at the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) said the agency had "participated actively in this operation together with its Dutch and British partners".

The Russians were detained in the Hague, NRC Handelsblad said Friday, citing the results of joint reporting with Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

The two Russians, whose names have not been made public, came to the attention of the Swiss authorities during an investigation that began in March into "suspicion of political espionage", said Linda von Burg, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland. She said the agency helped prevent "illegal actions against a critical Swiss infrastructure", and declined further comment.

The two men were expelled from The Netherlands shortly after their arrest, which had not been reported until now.

The lab has analysed suspected poison gas deployed in Syria and samples of the Novichok nerve agent that Britain accused Russian Federation of using to try to murder former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Switzerland's Foreign Ministry said it summoned Russia's ambassador to "protest against this attempted attack" and demanded that Russian Federation "immediately" end its spying activities on Swiss soil.

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The laboratory said it could not comment on FIS activities but confirmed it had been targeted by hackers.

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

"We had indications in the past few months that we were in the crosshairs of some hacking attempts and took precautions and weren't compromised", Andreas Bucher, a spokesman for the Spiez lab, told AFP. According to a report in April by the Russian news agency TASS, Lavrov received information "confidentially" that Spiez found traces of US chemical warfare agents in the samples.

'We have seen this article and it gives rise to a lot of questions...

Theresa May said they were GRU intelligence officers and that the attack had been approved "at a senior level of the Russian state". Russian Federation rejects the allegations by Britain, with Vladimir Putin saying that the two men are just ordinary citizens, according to the BBC.

The lab tested samples of the Salisbury nerve agent and has also examined chemical weapons which Syrian President Assad is suspected of using during the country's civil war. Zanders believes they may have been trying to hack into the Spiez Laboratory computer system to learn more about what British and worldwide authorities knew about the Novichok used in the Salisbury attack.

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