A person working on the British embassy in Berlin has been arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia.
German prosecutors stated a UK citizen accused of passing paperwork to the Russian intelligence service since final 12 months whereas working on the embassy was detained on Tuesday in Potsdam following an investigation collectively headed by German and British authorities.
Studies on Wednesday night time named the person as David Smith, 57. Detectives have performed a search of his dwelling and workplace.
Prosecutors stated he was suspected of getting spied for the Russian intelligence service since at the least November.
The arrest of Mr Smith prompted senior politicians on Wednesday night time to name for a overview of the safety of personal contractors who work in British embassies.
Tobias Ellwood, the Tory chairman of the Commons Defence Choose Committee, informed The Telegraph it ought to be “customary protocol following such an incident”.
And Labour’s Chris Bryant, chairman of the all-party parliamentary Russia group, informed the newspaper: “Our authorities should overview the safety of all contractors at UK embassies as a matter of urgency.”
Mr Smith had been employed regionally to work on the British Embassy as a safety guard within the German capital. He allegedly handed on paperwork he obtained at work to the Russians, and obtained an unknown sum of money in return.
He was being tracked by MI5 and German intelligence for quite a lot of months, The Occasions reviews.
“On at the least one event he forwarded paperwork obtained in the midst of his skilled actions to a consultant of a Russian intelligence service,” the German prosecutors’ assertion stated.
“In return for offering data, the accused obtained money in a beforehand unknown quantity.”
The person appeared earlier than an investigating choose on Wednesday on the Federal Court docket of Justice in Karlsruhe – Germany’s supreme court docket.
In an announcement, the Metropolitan Police, which additionally declined to call him absolutely, stated: “The person was arrested within the Berlin space on suspicion of committing offences regarding being engaged in ‘Intelligence Agent exercise’ (underneath German regulation).
“Primacy for the investigation stays with German authorities. Officers from Counter Terrorism Command proceed to liaise with German counterparts because the investigation continues.”
The Met’s Counter Terrorism Command is accountable for investigating alleged breaches of the Official Secrets and techniques Act.
A UK authorities spokesperson stated: “A person who was contracted to work for the federal government was arrested yesterday by the German authorities.
“It could not be acceptable to remark additional as there’s an ongoing police investigation.”
Germany’s international minister, Heiko Maas, informed reporters: “Spying on an in depth ally on German soil is completely unacceptable and we’re in full solidarity with our British buddies.
“We might be following the federal prosecutors’ additional investigations very carefully. And the place that’s desired, essential and doable, we may also assist them.”
The incident prompted a warning from the UK Labour Occasion over the federal government’s vacant safety minister publish.
The job has been unfilled for greater than a month after James Brokenshire stepped right down to concentrate on his most cancers restoration.
Shadow safety minister Conor McGinn stated it “beggars perception” that the position has but to be stuffed 5 weeks on. “Following immediately’s occasions, it raises questions on who in authorities is overseeing essentially the most severe activity of holding the British public secure and safe,” he stated.
A House Workplace spokesperson stated Priti Patel, the house secretary, was “accountable for all areas of House Workplace enterprise, together with these associated to nationwide safety”.
In November, Russia’s safety companies detained a UK-based govt working for Aeroflot on suspicion of spying for Britain.
Dmitry Fedotkin – the UK station supervisor for the Russian airline for the previous 5 years – was reportedly arrested in Moscow.
An unnamed Russian supply alleged that Mr Fedotkin had handed details about Russia’s social and political scenario to British intelligence companies – however didn’t have entry to state secrets and techniques linked to the aviation business.
In a separate case, Paul Whelan – a British, Irish, US and Canadian citizen – was detained at a Moscow resort in December 2018 by Russian authorities and accused of spying on Russia.
The previous US marine was subsequently sentenced to 16 years in jail.