The Justice Department on Thursday charged seven Russian intelligence officers with hacking anti-doping agencies and other organizations hours after Western officials leveled new accusations against Moscow's secretive GRU military spy agency, per the AP. Before the US indictment was announced, Western nations accused the GRU of new cybercrimes, with Dutch and British officials labeling the intelligence agency "brazen" for allegedly targeting the international chemical weapons watchdog and the investigation into the 2014 downing of a Malaysian Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine. The US indictment said that the GRU targeted its victims because they had publicly supported a ban on Russian athletes in international sports competitions and because they had condemned Russia's state-sponsored athlete doping program.
Prosecutors said that the Russians also targeted a Pennsylvania-based nuclear energy company and an international organization that was investigating chemical weapons in Syria and the poisoning of a former GRU officer. The indictment says the hacking was often conducted remotely. If that wasn't successful, the hackers would conduct "on-site" or "close access" hacking operations with trained GRU members traveling with sophisticated equipment to target their victims through Wi-Fi networks. Moscow has issued the latest in a series of denials, but the allegations leveled by Western intelligence agencies, supported by a wealth of surveillance footage and overwhelmingly confirmed by independent reporting, paint a picture of the GRU as an agency that routinely crosses red lines—and is increasingly being caught red-handed.
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