Spanish authorities have reportedly nabbed a suspect behind a spate of letter bombs sent to targets including the Ukrainian ambassador and 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 all those supporting Ukraine appeared to find themselves under threat. In addition to a Ukrainian embassy staffer being injured when one such device exploded in Madrid, an air base handling aid flights to Ukraine was also targeted, along with a factory producing grenade launchers for use by Ukraine’s armed forces.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón was also the would-be recipient of one explosive package, but authorities intercepted it before it actually reached him.
Now, 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 previous 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 reportedly believe he was working alone, and they don’t suspect him in other threatening packages sent to Ukrainian embassies throughout the European Union, including the ones containing bloody animal tissue and eyeballs.
Investigators “do not rule out the participation or influence of other people in the events,” however, according to El Pais.
The 74-year-old was detained Wednesday in the city of Burgos and now faces terrorism charges.
Earlier this week, The New York Times cited unnamed US officials who claimed Russian military intelligence was suspected in the letter bombs plot. Officials reportedly believed Moscow had enlisted help from the far-right extremist Russian Imperial Movement to send out 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 that report came out, however, and that theory was ruled out.