Spanish pensioner detained over Ukrainian embassy and prime minister’s letter bombs
Spanish police on Wednesday arrested a pensioner suspected of sending letter bombs targeting the prime minister and the Ukrainian embassy, authorities said.
The 74-year-old Spanish citizen was taken into police custody in Miranda de Ebro, northern Spain, and investigators searched his home where he allegedly made six letter bombs, police and the health ministry said. ‘Interior.
Masked police stood guard outside the property as officers searched inside with sniffer dogs, Spanish TV showed footage.
“This individual was very active on social media and according to National Police investigators, he has technical and IT expertise,” the interior ministry said in a statement.
“While it is believed that the detainee made and shipped the explosives alone, police are not ruling out the involvement or influence of others.”
No one was killed by the six letter bombs sent to various locations in Spain in late November and early December, but a Ukrainian embassy worker was slightly injured while opening one of the packages.
Letters were sent to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s official residence, the Spanish Ministry of Defense and an air base near Madrid from which Spain sent weapons to Ukraine.
A military equipment company in the northeastern city of Zaragoza was also targeted, which produces grenade launchers that Spain has sent to Ukraine.
After the embassy in Madrid was attacked, Kiev tightened security at its embassies around the world.
The arrest came after a weekend report in The New York Times said Russian military intelligence officers had “led” associates of a Russian-based white supremacist militant group to carry out the campaign in Spain.
US officials told the newspaper that Russian officers leading the campaign seemed determined to “keep European governments on their toes” and “test proxy groups in case Moscow decides to escalate a conflict.”
Investigators suspect that the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM), a radical group with members and collaborators across Europe, is behind the letter bombing campaign.
The group – which has been designated by the United States as a global terrorist organization – is said to have ties to Russian intelligence services.
“Important members of the group have traveled to Spain and police there have been monitoring their ties to far-right Spanish organizations,” the paper said.
According to Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, RIM “liaises with neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups across Europe.”
“The group provided paramilitary training to Russian nationals and members of like-minded organizations from other countries at its facilities in St. Petersburg,” he added.
After the attack on the embassy, the Ukrainian ambassador to Spain, Serhii Pohoreltsev, appeared to be pointing the finger at Russia.
“We are well aware of the terrorist methods of the aggressor country,” he told Spain’s public television on Nov. 30, hours after the incident.
The Russian embassy in Spain condemned the letter bombing campaign.
After congratulating police on the arrest, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said investigators are “examining all possibilities”.
Private television La Sexta, which first reported on the pensioner’s arrest, said the suspect was a former municipal official in Vitoria, a town in northern Spain, who lived alone.
After the bombing campaign, Spain’s National Court of Justice opened an investigation for “terrorism”.
In addition to sending weapons to Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s nearly year-long war, Spain is also training Ukrainian troops under a European Union program and providing humanitarian aid.
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