German police announced on Wednesday (11) that they had arrested a Briton who worked at his country’s embassy in Berlin on suspicion of selling documents to Russian intelligence services.
The man, identified only as David S., is 57 years old and was arrested in Potsdam, greater Berlin on Tuesday (10).
“At least once, he passed documents he had obtained due to his professional activities to a representative of the Russian intelligence services,” said the German prosecution. “He received money, in an as yet unknown amount, in exchange for the information.” According to the agency, there are “strong suspicions” that the suspect has been working for the Russians since November 2020.
German prosecutors said the Briton’s apartment and workplace were searched and he would be brought before a judge later on Wednesday.
According to the German portal Focus, the man handed Russians documents containing information about the UK’s counterterrorism actions.
The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Foreign Intelligence Service did not respond to Reuters requests for an interview. The Russian Embassy in Germany declined to comment on the case to Russian Interfax news agency.
The German Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that “spying by an allied country on German soil is unacceptable” and that it will follow the investigations closely.
Relations between the UK and Russia are at their worst since former double agent Sergei Skripal was poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury, England in 2018.
The Kremlin has always denied any role in the affair, but the episode sparked a wave of expulsions of diplomats from London and allied countries, to which Moscow is responding, unprecedented since the end of the Cold War.
Previously, Alexander Litvinenko, an opponent of the Russian government in exile in the United Kingdom, was killed in November 2006 by poisoning with polonium-210, an extremely toxic radioactive substance. While dying, he accused President Vladimir Putin of being responsible for the poisoning.
In Germany there are a number of cases of espionage attributed to the Kremlin. At the end of June, German justice announced the arrest of a Russian scientist suspected of having transmitted information from a German university in Moscow. In addition, the German government has repeatedly accused the Russians of engaging in digital espionage.
But the issue that most raised tensions between the two countries was the attempted assassination of Russian opponent Alexei Navalni in August last year in Siberia. Navalni was taken into a coma in Berlin, where he received treatment, and was diagnosed with poisoning by German doctors, which also fell at Moscow’s expense.