Spanish authorities have reportedly captured a suspect behind a spate of letter bombs sent to targets including the Ukrainian ambassador and the Spanish prime minister: a 74-year-old man described by law enforcement sources as “lonely” and “strange”.
The news, reported by local outlets El Pais, ABC and La Sexta, comes more than a month after the mysterious packages sparked a wave of panic in Europe, as everyone supporting Ukraine appeared to feel threatened. In addition to a Ukrainian embassy employee who was injured when such a device exploded in Madrid, an air base handling relief flights to Ukraine was also targeted, along with a factory that produced grenade launchers for use by the Ukrainian armed forces.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón was also the potential recipient of one explosive package, but authorities intercepted it before it actually reached him.
With a suspect in custody, the motive remains unclear. Police have not yet named their suspect, but local reports describe him as a retiree with no criminal record who previously worked as a public servant.
Sources quoted by ABC said the man was “very active” on social media and espoused “pro-Russian” views. But investigators reportedly believe he worked alone, and they don’t suspect him in other menacing packages sent to Ukrainian embassies across the European Union, including those containing bloody animal tissue and eyeballs.
Investigators, however, “are not ruling out the participation or influence of other people in the events,” El Pais said.
The 74-year-old was detained in the city of Burgos on Wednesday and is now charged with terrorism.
Earlier this week, The New York Times cited unnamed U.S. officials who claimed Russian military intelligence was suspected in the letter bomb plot. Officials reportedly believed that Moscow enlisted the help of the far-right extremist Russian Imperial Movement to send the explosives and send a message to Europe that Russia could strike anywhere.
However, Spanish detectives already had their 74-year-old suspect in mind when that report came out and that theory was ruled out.