UK, Netherlands accuse Russian Federation of hacking, including chemical weapons watchdog

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Tonight, the U.S. justice department charged seven suspected GRU officers.

The indictments also include charges of money laundering using bitcoin, wire fraud and identify theft.

USA prosecutors also said that the Russian hackers targeted the Pennsylvania-based company Westinghouse.

Canada said "with high confidence" that breaches at its centre for ethics in sports and at the Montreal-based World Anti-Doping Agency were carried out by Russian intelligence. "If we could get our hands on these folks some day, we would have no problem bringing them to justice".

Mr. Demers said the operations "involved sophisticated, persistent and unauthorised access into the victims' computer networks for the objective of stealing private or otherwise sensitive information".

The Dutch intelligence services held a press conference on Thursday revealing details of what they claim was a Russian operation to infiltrate the OPCW, as it investigated the attempt to poison a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom this year.

"Today we are indicting seven GRU officers for multiple felonies each", said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement, "including the use of hacking to spread the personal information of hundreds of anti-doping officials and athletes as part of an effort to distract from Russia's state-sponsored doping program".

Demers declined to comment on whether there are additional hacking concerns with the upcoming USA mid-term elections.

"Wiggins" reputation and popularity took a hit when his medical records were published in September 2016 by Fancy Bear, a name allegedly used as an alias by the GRU posing as anti-drugs crusaders.

The GRU was nearly certainly behind those attacks, Britain said, as well as attacks on Ukraine's Kyiv metro and Odessa airport, Russia's central bank, two Russian media outlets, and an unidentified small UK-based television station.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the disclosures were "hard evidence" of the "unacceptable" activities of the GRU which Britain has previously blamed for the attack in Salisbury.

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"The incidents identified by Canada and our allies, including the GRU's attempt to undermine the work of the OPCW, underscore the Russian government's disregard for the rules-based worldwide order, global law and established norms", the statement said.

Efforts to penetrate its networks started in late 2014, some nine months after Ukraine's pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych was removed from power during the Ukrainian Revolution.

At a press conference on Thursday, he said the plan was thwarted when a number of Russians were escorted from the country in April. The accusations were backed by other Western nations, including the USA, which said Moscow must pay a price.

Agents are said to have travelled to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Lausanne in Switzerland, the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, and The Hague to target the OPCW.

The disclosure that athlete Bradley Wiggins received permission to take a banned substance before races to treat asthma sparked controversy in British cycling.

Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a news briefing that the accusations were the product of someone with a "rich imagination". Maybe a Nina Ricci bottle.

The UK government believes that the Kremlin was ultimately responsible for the GRU hacks.

The OPCW was investigating the poisoning in Britain earlier this year of GRU defector Sergei Skripal, in which the nerve agent Novichok was used. That report singled him out as a highly decorated Russian intelligence colonel.

The OPCW is the world's foremost chemical weapons watchdog, and in June granted itself new powers to assign blame for attacks despite protests by Russian Federation.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance stood "in solidarity" with the decision by the Dutch and British governments to "call out" Russian Federation for its actions.

Officials said they were from the GRU's Unit 26165, which has also been known as APT 28.

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