Russian Spies Posed as Journalists to Probe Skripal Investigation

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.

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.

“Greetings! 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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Written by

Oisin Sweeney

Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...

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