World / Crime & Legal

'No James Bond': Dutch hotel says four alleged Russian spies went quietly

AFP-JIJI

Four alleged Russian spies were arrested by Dutch agents as they walked out of a hotel elevator in The Hague without force and with “no James Bond involved,” the manager said Thursday.

Dutch security forces said they had seized the men on April 13 as they tried to carry out a cyberattack on the world chemical weapons watchdog using electronic gear in a car parked at the Marriott Hotel next door.

But there were “no guns, no handcuffs or force,” as police arrived at the hotel in the city’s upmarket Statenkwartier district in broad daylight, said Vincent Pahlplatz, general manager at the Marriott.

“The police went to the front desk and said we would like to talk to a few of your guests,” Pahlplatz told AFP.

“At that very same time, the four men came out of the elevator into the lobby, coincidentally.”

There was no showdown.

“The police officers simply told the men: ‘Will you please follow me’ — and they did!” said Pahlplatz, who was in the lobby at the time with Dutch security agents.

“They followed the police outside and never returned. Some people were checking in and they didn’t even notice what was going on.”

The hotel is next door to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and is across the road from Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s official Catshuis residence.

Police then came with an official warrant to search the room where the Russians were staying “and we gave them access,” the manager said.

“Of course, we had a million questions, but police said because of their investigation they could not share them — until today.”

“It sounds like James Bond but there was no James Bond involved,” said Pahlplatz.

“No Aston Martins, no revolving number plates, nobody sky diving from the rooftop. It’s a very dull James Bond story,” he laughed.

Dutch officials said on Thursday that the men had been trying to hack into the OPCW’s computer system. They were expelled immediately after their arrest.