Swedish prosecutor says Russia's GRU hacked Sweden's sports body

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the headquarters of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, formerly known as the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), in Moscow, Russia October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish prosecutors said on Tuesday an investigation showed that Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency had carried out serious data secrecy breaches at Sweden’s sports confederation in 2017 and 2018 but it was nevertheless dropping the case.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement that repeated and comprehensive breaches had resulted in the GRU accessing Swedish athletes’ personal details, such as medical records, which were subsequently published.

It said it had decided to discontinue the matter because it would not be able to take the investigation abroad nor have suspects extradited.

“Against the background of parties acting for a foreign power, in this case Russia, we have reached the conclusion that the necessary preconditions for taking legal proceedings abroad or extradition to Sweden are lacking,” Prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said in the statement.

The Russian defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Swedish Sports Confederation, the umbrella organisation for Swedish sports, said here in 2018 that a Russian hacking group which many cyber researchers refer to as "Fancy Bear" had hacked into its anti-doping unit's computers, accessing and publishing the records of doping tests performed on athletes.

According to U.S. intelligence agencies, “Fancy Bear” is controlled by the GRU.

In 2016, the World Anti-Doping Agency accused Russian hackers of stealing medical information about U.S. Olympic athletes and publishing it online. “Fancy Bear” hackers have also been linked by cyber security investigators to cyber attacks on the U.S. and French elections.

Reporting by Anna Ringstrom, additional reporting by Tom Balmforth in Moscow, editing by Giles Elgood