UK man charged with ‘Russia-backed arson plot’ on Ukraine-linked targets

UK man charged with ‘Russia-backed arson plot’ on Ukraine-linked targets
UK man charged with ‘Russia-backed arson plot’ on Ukraine-linked targets

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A 20-year-old British man has been charged with masterminding an arson plot against a Ukrainian-linked target in London for the benefit of the Russian state, prosecutors said today. — Reuters pic

LONDON, April 26 — A 20-year-old British man has been charged with masterminding an arson plot against a Ukrainian-linked target in London for the benefit of the Russian state, prosecutors said today.

“Included in the alleged activity was involvement in the planning of an arson attack on a Ukrainian-linked commercial property in March 2024,” the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement.

Court documents allege that suspect Dylan Earl, from Leicestershire in central England, was connected to the proscribed terrorist group the Wagner Group, the domestic Press Association news agency reported.

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He is accused of organising and paying for an arson attack on two units on an industrial estate in Leyton, east London, on March 20, which required 60 firefighters to bring under control.

The alleged target is referred to as “Mr X” in the charges.

The CPS, which brings prosecutions in England and Wales, said two other men — Paul English, 60, and Nii Mensah, 21 — had also been charged with aggravated arson in connection with the case.

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A third, Jake Reeves, 22, had been charged with agreeing to accept a material benefit from a foreign intelligence service as well as aggravated arson.

A fifth man, Dmitrijus Paulauska, 22, has been charged with having information about terrorist acts, the CPS added.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said: “While we must let the judicial process run its course, I am deeply concerned by allegations of British nationals carrying out criminal activity on UK soil to benefit the Russian state.

“We will use the full weight of the criminal justice system to hold anyone found guilty of crimes linked to foreign interference to account,” he wrote on the social media platform X.

Dominic Murphy, head of the Metropolitan Police in London’s Counter Terrorism Command which is leading the investigation, said: “This is a highly significant moment and investigation for us.

“Not only are the charges that have been authorised by the CPS extremely serious, but it is also the first time that we have arrested, and now charged anyone using the powers and legislation brought in under the National Security Act.”

The National Security Act 2023 came into effect in December last year, and was designed to respond to “the threat of hostile activity from states targeting the UK’s democracy, economy, and values”, the government said at the time.

All five suspects are due to appear at the Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey, London, on May 10. — AFP

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