Report: Russian Spies Posed as Plumbers in Davos

Though Russia raises some questions about the report
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2020 12:52 PM CST
Report: Russian Spies Posed as Plumbers in Davos
President Donald Trump meets with European Commission President Ursula von Der Leyen at the World Economic Forum, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Davos, Switzerland.   (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

It sounds like the plot of a movie: Police in Davos, Switzerland, believe Russian spies attempted to infiltrate this week's World Economic Forum by posing as plumbers, according to a local report and the Financial Times. Suspicion first arose when police questioned two Russian men back in August, after having been "alerted to their unusually long stay" in the secluded Alpine high-end resort, per FT. The men said they had diplomatic protections, but they were never registered as official diplomats, and police reportedly suspect they were actually there to bug facilities around Davos so they could spy on private conversations between the influential attendees of the forum and report back to the Kremlin. The men ultimately produced diplomatic passports and left the country. However, some details remain unclear.

Russia denies any such espionage. A representative for the Russian Embassy in Switzerland tells CNBC Swiss authorities never contacted the embassy about the alleged scheme, and says the story is simply "one more attempt to undermine Swiss-Russian relations." The rep also points out the reports that are just now coming out about the incident don't indicate the men were arrested or found guilty of anything. "Reuters notes that the report originated in a Swiss newspaper, but that Swiss police have not confirmed things like the plumber detail: "It is true that we checked two Russian citizens in Davos and they identified themselves with diplomatic passports, but we could not ascertain any reason to detain them," a police spokesperson says. (More Russian spies stories.)

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