Employee of UK embassy in Berlin pleads guilty to Russian espionage charges

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A British national who worked at the British Embassy in Berlin, Germany, pleaded guilty to eight offenses related to passing useful information to Russia.

British national, David Ballantyne Smith, who pleaded guilty under the Official Secrets Act, was employed as a security guard at the embassy and lived in Potsdam at the time, reports SchengenVisaInfo.com.

Reuters explains that Smith was arrested by German police in August 2021 and extradited to Britain.

Additionally, the same source notes that Smith pleaded guilty to the offenses on November 4 and pointed out that Judge Mark Wall dropped restrictions on reporting Smith’s pleas last week after the prosecution said that she would not seek a trial for a ninth charge to which Smith admitted not being guilty.

According to Reuters, Smith appeared at the Old Bailey last week, where he pleaded guilty to a charge of sharing information about UK Embassy officials with Major General Sergey Chukhurov between October and December 2020.

In addition, the 58-year-old also admitted seven other charges for gathering information that could be useful to Russia, including documents relating to the operation as well as the layout of the British Embassy in Berlin.

In addition to the above, it has been pointed out that the relevant authorities found a draft letter while searching his electronic devices. In the letter, Smith offered to provide services to a Russian diplomat.

It was revealed that Smith gave information on the activities, telephone numbers, as well as the identity of several British officials. He also collected CCTV footage recordings of Dmitry.

Prosecutors reportedly said Smith’s actions were motivated by a hatred of the UK and its embassy. Also, it was claimed that he was not happy when the embassy flew the rainbow flag to show support for the LGBT+ community.

On the other hand, Smith’s attorney, Matthew Ryder, told the court that there was a huge difference between the prosecution and Smith regarding “his motivation”.

“His intent and why he did what he did and the seriousness of the allegations as (the prosecution) made them are strongly disputed by Mr. Smith,” Ryder said, according to Reuters.

A hearing will be held next year, in February 2023, at which it will be determined on what basis Smith who pleaded guilty to eight offenses will be sentenced.

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