A stunning allegation out of the Netherlands: The defense minister said Thursday the country had previously kicked out four Russians, believed to be GRU military intelligence officers, who were planning a cyber attack on the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague. The global chemical weapons watchdog has been testing the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals in the UK. CBS News reports the four suspects, which included an IT expert, were caught "in flagrante" on April 13 and immediately removed from the country. The men were allegedly trying to hack into the OPCW via its WiFi network, reports the Guardian, supposedly after a spear-phishing attack launched from Russia failed. The trunk of their rental car, which was parked outside the OPCW's HQ, reportedly contained computer equipment designed to intercept log-ins.
One of the men allegedly tried to trash his cell phone upon being confronted by authorities, reports the BBC, but officials say plenty of damning evidence was recovered, including an antenna concealed under a coat and a taxi receipt for a trip from a street near the GRU's Moscow location to the airport. British ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Wilson, who was present for the announcement, said a seized laptop's history indicated it was part of previous hacks: in Malaysia in association with the investigation into the downing of flight MH-17 over the Ukraine in 2014, and in Lausanne, Switzerland, in connection with the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has investigated doping by Russian athletes. Wilson's take: that the GRU was trying to "clean up Russia's own mess." Russia's take, per a foreign ministry rep quoted by the Guardian: "big fantasies." (Read more Russia stories.)