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Cyberattack suspicions Swiss probe Russians over alleged World Anti-Doping Agency hack

La Maison du Sport International in Lausanne

Swiss newspapers on Saturday said the WADA offices, hosted by the Maison du Sport International, and International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne had both been targeted by hackers

(Keystone)

Two Russian agents arrested in the Netherlands on suspicion of spying on a Swiss laboratory are also being investigated by Switzerland over an alleged cyberattack on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), it emerged on Saturday. 

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) confirmed to Reuters and AFP that prosecutors were investigating whether Russian agents tried to hack WADA, which has its European office in the Swiss city of Lausanne. 

Criminal proceedings were launched in March 2017 on suspicion of political espionage, the OAG said in a statement.

The OAG said the individuals concerned were the same pair identified by the Swiss intelligence service which on Friday said it had stopped a Russian plot targeting the Spiez Laboratory near Bern.

+ Read more about suspected spying on the Spiez laboratory 

Swiss newspapers on Saturday said the WADA offices and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne had both been targeted. 

Both organisations have been investigating widespread doping of Russian athletes, which has led to dozens of competitors being banned and the country being barred from international sports events.

The Tages-Anzeiger newspaper reported that Russian agents traveled to a meeting of the IOC, while the Russian military intelligence agency was suspected of carrying out the hacking attack on WADA.

The Russian Embassy in Bern on Saturday described the reports on the alleged WADA hacking as fairy tales, and an attempt to derail the reinstatement of Russia's own anti-doping authority.

On Friday, WADA's independent Compliance Review Committee recommended the reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) when WADA's executive committee meets next on September 20.

Spiez lab

On Friday, the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service confirmed a Tages-Anzeiger and NRC Handelsblad news report that two Russian agents had been arrested in the Netherlands and expelled in March after a joint operation by Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland. 

Citing unnamed sources, the Swiss and Dutch papers said the suspected agents were heading for the Spiez laboratory near Bern which analyses chemical and biological weapons, including the nerve agent Novichok. 

The Swiss foreign ministry said it had summoned the Russian ambassador to Switzerland to demand an "immediate end to spy activities on Swiss territory". However, the Russian embassy has dismissed the allegations. 

The Spiez lab has analysed samples of a nerve agent that Britain says Russia used to try to murder a former spy and suspected poison gas deployed in Syria.

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. Russia has denied that these two men have anything to do with the Skripal case. 

AFP/Reuters/sb

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