Political espionage updates

A British man working on the UK embassy in Berlin has been arrested on suspicion of passing info to the Russian intelligence companies, German prosecutors mentioned on Wednesday.

The 57-year-old UK nationwide, named solely as David S, was arrested on Tuesday in Potsdam, a city south-west of Berlin, following a joint investigation by German and British authorities.

The German federal prosecutor’s workplace mentioned he was an area worker, fairly than a diplomat, and was suspected of getting labored for “overseas brokers” since November. One individual acquainted with the investigation described the suspect as a “contractor” on the embassy.

“On at the very least one event, he handed on paperwork he had obtained in the midst of his skilled actions to a consultant of a Russian intelligence service,” Germany’s chief federal prosecutor’s workplace mentioned in a press release. “The accused acquired an as but unknown amount of money in alternate for him passing on info.”

The suspect’s condominium and office have been searched and he’s going through prices regarding engagement in “intelligence agent exercise” underneath German regulation.

MI5 — the UK’s home spy company which has led the British facet of the investigation — had been monitoring the suspect for months earlier than his arrest.

The German overseas ministry mentioned the federal government was taking the allegations of Russian intelligence operations in Berlin “very significantly”, including: “Spying on an in depth ally on German soil is just not one thing we are able to settle for.”

In a press release, the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism command mentioned that primacy for the investigation stays with German authorities however that British officers will “liaise with German counterparts” as enquiries proceed.

The Met’s counter-terrorism command is accountable for probing allegations regarding alleged breaches of the Official Secrets and techniques Act.

The UK House Workplace confirmed that “a person who was contracted to work for the federal government” had been arrested by the German authorities. “It could not be acceptable to remark additional as there may be an ongoing police investigation,” a spokesman added.

The suspect appeared on the federal court docket of justice in Karlsruhe on Wednesday the place he was remanded in custody. One British official mentioned it was almost certainly that he would face trial in Germany, fairly than being extradited again to the UK.

In the course of the Chilly Battle, Berlin grew to become a centre for competing intelligence operations because the US and its western allies confronted off in opposition to Soviet spies from the east.

Germany has been the goal of Russian covert exercise lately. In June, the federal prosecutor arrested the analysis assistant of a science professorial chair at a German college on allegations of passing info to a Russian secret service officer in alternate for cost.

The German authorities final 12 months introduced {that a} 2015 hack of the Bundestag was carried out by brokers from Russia’s GRU army intelligence companies, which led Berlin to subject an arrest warrant for GRU agent Dimitri Baden. Moscow denies all accusations that it has hacked overseas governments.

Essentially the most stunning incident was the 2019 killing of a former Chechen insurgent chief in Berlin’s Tiergarten park. The gunman is on trial charged with the killing underneath contract by “companies of the central authorities of the Russian Federation”.

The UK’s tense relations with Russia worsened after the 2018 tried poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. British police accused Russian intelligence officers of getting planted the lethal nerve agent, which triggered the demise of a UK nationwide who had grow to be contaminated with traces present in a fragrance bottle.

Since then, the UK authorities has come underneath fireplace from parliament’s Intelligence and Safety Committee for failing to commit sufficient sources to countering the chance from Russia.

A report containing these criticisms was ultimately revealed 9 months after being submitted to Downing Avenue by the committee, prompting criticisms that ministers had suppressed its findings till after the 2019 basic election.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s shadow house secretary, described the incident in Berlin as “yet one more instance of the actual risk posed by Russia”. He mentioned it was “unacceptable that Conservative ministers have been so gradual to enact the measures obligatory to guard the UK, together with implementing the suggestions of the Russia report.”