Home » British man charged with acting on behalf of Russia in plot to torch Ukrainian-linked business

British man charged with acting on behalf of Russia in plot to torch Ukrainian-linked business

LONDON — A British man accused of plotting to torch a London business connected to Ukraine has been charged with conducting hostile activity to benefit Russia, prosecutors said Friday.

Dylan Earl, 20, is connected to Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which the U.K. government has declared a banned terrorist organization, court documents said.

Earl is accused of fraud, carrying out reconnaissance of targets and recruiting others to assist Russian intelligence services in the U.K.

“Included in the alleged activity was involvement in the planning of an arson attack on a Ukrainian-linked commercial property in March,” said Nick Price, head of the Crown Prosecution Service Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division.

He allegedly planned and paid others to burn down two shipping businesses at an industrial park in east London on March 20. The target of the fire was named as “Mr X” in the court charges.

Earl is the first person to be charged under the National Security Act 2023, which created new measures to combat espionage, political interference and benefiting from foreign intelligence services. It also gave authorities additional powers to search and seize property and detain and arrest suspects.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg cited the case Friday during a visit to Berlin, saying members must “remain vigilant regarding covert Russian activities across the alliance.”

Stoltenberg pointed to the British case and to the arrest on suspicion of espionage in Germany last week of two men, one of them accused of agreeing to carry out attacks on potential targets including U.S. military facilities in hopes of sabotaging aid for Ukraine.

“NATO allies stand in full solidarity with Germany and the United Kingdom,” he said. “Such acts are dangerous and unacceptable. They will not deter us from providing support to Ukraine, and we are coordinating closely in our response to any hostile act against NATO allies.”

Earl appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last week but restrictions prevented reporting on the case until Friday when two co-defendants appeared in court. He is also charged with conduct endangering lives or endangering the public in violation of the National Security Act and aggravated arson.

Jake Reeves, 22, was charged in court Friday with accepting money knowing it was from a foreign intelligence service, and aggravated arson.

Dmitrijus Paulauska, 22, was charged with failing to disclose information about terrorist acts.

Two other men, Paul English, 60, and Nii Mensah, 21, appeared in court previously on aggravated arson charges.

None of the five have entered pleas and were being held in custody. They are to appear May 10 at a hearing at the Central Criminal Court known as the Old Bailey.