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UK man charged with Russia-backed arson attack in London

April 26, 2024

A British man is accused of planning an arson attack on Ukraine-linked businesses in London on behalf of Russia's Wagner Group.

Archive photo of a statue Lady Justice, holding scales and a sword, on top of the Central Criminal Court.
A total of 5 people were charged with aggravated arson.Image: Clara Molden/empics/picture alliance

A 20-year-old British man is accused of organizing an arson attack on a Ukrainian-linked commercial property in London in March 2024 for the benefit of Russia, the Crown Prosecution Service reported on Friday.

Dylan E., from Leicestershire in central England, is accused of organizing and conducting an arson attack on two units at an industrial park in Leyton, east London, on March 20.

The fire required 60 firefighters to extinguish. 

Court documents allege the suspect was working on behalf of the Wagner Group, a private Russian mercenary unit.  He is accused of recruiting and paying others to carry out an arson attack. 

Four other suspects have also been charged with aggravated arson in connection with the attack. One of the accused was charged with accepting material from an unspecified foreign intelligence service. 

All five suspects are to appear at the Central Criminal Court — known as the Old Bailey — in London on May 10.

UK summons Russian envoy

The UK Foreign Office later said it had summoned Russian ambassador Andrey Kelin "following allegations of Russian orchestrated malign activity on UK soil."

The statement also echoed concerns about a "wider reported pattern of behavior we are witnessing on the part of the Russian Federation to sponsor such activity on the territory of other, sovereign states," a foreign office spokesperson said.

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 X, formerly Twitter.

The UK passed the National Security Act last year to respond to "the threat of hostile activity from states targeting the UK's democracy, economy, and values", the British government said.

mm, ac\wmr (AFP, Reuters, dpa)