Spies from Russia’s military intelligence unit (GRU) posed as two female Telegraph journalists to probe the investigation into the Salisbury Novichok poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in 2018 whilst also staking out in nearby Andover.
The operatives set up fake email accounts impersonating Kate Morley, consumer writer, and Helen Russel, a contributing author, to send messages to investigating bodies in the UK and Netherlands. Thirty nine emails were sent to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OCPW) in The Hague, which was working alongside British authorities in the investigation. Porton Down research center and the UK Foreign Office also received emails from the spies.
IP addresses have revealed also that they staked out in nearby Andover.
Tracking devices also reveal that spies went to Andover establishments to change WIFI signals – one being furniture store International Furniture.
It’s believed the Russian Spies, rented an apartment near the furniture store for several weeks.
“My name is Katie Morley, I represent the Telegraph newspaper. Our team has carried out an independent investigation into Salisbury spy poisoning case.’ said one email, “We have interviewed one of the witnesses and ascertained previously unknown facts that may help the investigation. Before the materials are published, we would like to consult and discuss the option of cooperation with you.”
The email invited its recipient to click an attachment, which would have compromised the security of the OPCW’s computer system.
Experts have said the unsophisticated attempted cyber attack was designed to catch officials off guard. Kate Morley revealed that UK officials were examining the possibility that ‘perhaps we were selected based not on our credentials, but our looks.’‘I find it laughable to think I might have been part of a honey trap, but it appears to be a distinct possibility.’ The case’s indictment, released by the US Department of Justice, names 29-year old Russian national Anatoliy Sergeyevich as the chief suspect in this attempted cyber infiltration. He had previously posed as a German journalist in another case and is wanted by the FBI for hacking and identity theft.
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