Spanish authorities have reportedly nabbed a suspect behind a series of letter bombs sent to targets including the Ukrainian ambassador and the Spanish prime minister: a 74-year-old man described by police sources as “lonely” and “strange”.
The news, reported by local media El Pais, ABC and La Sexta, comes more than a month after the mysterious packages sparked a wave of panic in Europe as everyone who supports Ukraine appears to be under threat. In addition to a Ukrainian embassy staff member injured in the explosion of one of these devices in Madrid, an air base providing aid flights to Ukraine was also targeted, as well as a factory producing grenade launchers for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón was also the potential recipient of an explosive package, but authorities intercepted it before it reached him.
Now, with a suspect in custody, the motive remains unclear. Police have yet to name their suspect, but local reports describe him as a retiree with no criminal record who previously worked as a civil servant.
Sources cited by ABC said the man was “very active” on social media and espoused “pro-Russian” views. But investigators believe he was working alone, and they do not suspect him in other threatening packages sent to Ukrainian embassies across the European Union, including those containing tissue and bloody animal eyeballs.
Investigators “do not rule out the involvement or influence of other people in the events”, however, according to El Pais.
The 74-year-old was arrested in the city of Burgos on Wednesday and now faces terrorism charges.
Earlier this week, The New York Times cited unnamed U.S. officials who claimed that Russian military intelligence was suspected of involvement in the letter bomb plot. Officials reportedly believed Moscow had asked for help from the far-right Russian Imperial Movement to dispatch the explosives and send a message to Europe that Russia could strike anywhere.
Spanish investigators already had eyes on their 74-year-old suspect at the time of this report’s publication, however, and that theory has been dismissed.