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Dutch 'expelled two Russian spies over Novichok lab plot'

16 September 2018

She said the agency helped prevent "illegal actions against a critical Swiss infrastructure", and declined further comment.

The spies were arrested earlier this year but their existence has only now been revealed.

But the two newspaper reports suggest the two suspected spies were expelled from the Netherlands in March, adding the two suspects were not the same as the two men charged by British prosecutors in the Skripal case last week.

Tages-Anzeiger newspaper reported that the men were carrying equipment that could be used to break into the lab's IT network when they were arrested.

The men are believed to have been agents for the Russian military intelligence service, according to Swiss and Dutch media.

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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.

The Swiss government has confirmed reports that Dutch authorities had arrested and expelled two suspected Russian spies earlier this year after the two allegedly tried to hack a Swiss laboratory that conducts chemical weapons tests.

Not only was the lab used to confirm the use of Novichok, it was the same Swiss lab that confirmed the use of another chemical weapon, sarin, in an attack in Syria back in 2013.

Switzerland's foreign ministry said it had summoned Russia's ambassador on Friday to "protest against this attempted attack" and demanded Russian Federation "immediately" stop any spying in Switzerland.

A spokeswoman for the Swiss Attorney General's Office confirmed to AFP that the individuals linked to the alleged hack at WADA's Swiss office "are those affected by the operation mentioned by the Federal Intelligence Service" in connection with the Spiez laboratory attack. He said the lab had taken precautions, and no data was lost.

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"I cannot suppose that such an occurrence, in which the specialists of three Western countries participated, could remain out of the field of view of the mass media", Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters after meeting with his German counterpart in Berlin, Russian news agencies said.

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

The sources said the two men worked for Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate, known in English by the acronym GRU. Russian Federation rejects the allegations by Britain, with Vladimir Putin saying that the two men are just ordinary citizens, according to the BBC.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called Sergei Skripal, who spied for Russia and then Britain, a traitor for selling state secrets. Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov don't deny they were in Salisbury the day of the attack but claimed they were just ordinary tourists in town to visit a historic clock.

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Dutch 'expelled two Russian spies over Novichok lab plot'