Four questions about Russian diplomats expelled for espionage | NOW

Two diplomats from the Russian embassy in The Hague were declared persona non grata last week. They must leave our country within two weeks. What exactly is going on?

What are the two Russians accused of?

The AIVD states that they were engaged in espionage in the Dutch high-tech sector. They were accredited as diplomats, but in reality they would work for the Russian foreign intelligence service SVR.

According to the AIVD, one of the two built up a “substantial network of sources”, all of which are or were active in the Dutch high-tech sector. These sources had access to sensitive information. Some received money in exchange for information. The AIVD has “been able to establish reasonably intensive contacts in more than ten cases”, AIVD boss Erik Akerboom told the NPO Radio 1 program. News and Co.

The second deported agent is said to have played a “supporting role”.

The two Russian agents have “most likely caused damage to the organizations where the sources are and were active and thus possibly also to the Dutch economy and national security,” said the Dutch intelligence service.

What were the Russians after according to the AIVD?

The pair would have been interested in “information about artificial intelligence, semiconductors and nanotechnology”, the AIVD reported. Their sources worked at companies and at a higher education institution.

The AIVD makes no statements about the identity of the sources and the organizations concerned. The organizations have been warned. In addition, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) has been informed about one of the Russian sources. In response to this, “measures under immigration law” are being taken, the intelligence service said.

Intellectual property theft is not only annoying for companies that have invested a lot in researching and developing the technology in question. The technology can be used for both civil and military purposes.

How has Russia responded to the deportation?

The Russian embassy confirmed at the end of last week that it had been informed by the Dutch government that the two diplomats had been declared persona non grata. “However, no evidence has been provided of their illegal activities on the territory of the kingdom. Countermeasures will follow,” the embassy said on Friday.

Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, had promised an “adequate and timely” response the day before. He called the Dutch decision to expel the diplomats a “provocation” and said the espionage allegations are “baseless”.

When diplomats are expelled, it is common for the affected country to expel an equal number of diplomats as a countermeasure.

Do these things happen more often?

Russia was previously caught espionage in the Netherlands. In 2018, four Russian officers tried to hack into the OPCW, the chemical weapons treaty organization in The Hague, which was investigating, among other things, Russian air strikes in Syria and the poisoning of the Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom.

There were also accusations going the other way. Russia stated in August that tracking equipment had been found in the car of the Russian military attaché in the Netherlands.

Internationally, diplomatic staff are also regularly accused of practices that cannot stand the light of day. For example, in July of this year, the US government closed the Chinese consulate in the Texan city of Houston. This would have included “industrial espionage” and theft of intellectual property.


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