A British man who worked at the British embassy in Berlin has been arrested on suspicion of passing documents to the Russian intelligence service for cash, prosecutors said.
David S. has been questioned by investigators and investigated by the German police, according to German prosecutors.
According to British police, the man was 57 years old.
“He passed on documents he obtained in the course of his professional activities at least once to a representative of a Russian intelligence service,” Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
According to the statement, the accused received cash in an amount as yet unknown for his information.
The British man’s motivation, according to a Western security source, was probably money. The source said he was a locally engaged staffer who did not have access to highly classified material, adding that the MI5 counter-intelligence service was involved in catching him.
The German online magazine Focus Online reported that he provided the Russians with documents containing counterterrorism information.
The Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and the Federal Security Service (FSB) have not replied to requests for comment. The Russian Embassy in Germany declined to comment on reports about the case to Interfax.
The British embassy in Berlin is only 250 metres (273 yards) from the famous Unter den Linden boulevard, near the Brandenburg Gate, and a short walk away from the Russian ambassador’s residence.
British officials outlined plans in May to combat hostile activity by foreign states, proposing a law that would give security services and law enforcement new powers to combat growing threats
The man was arrested in Potsdam, just outside Berlin, on Tuesday. Until his arrest, he worked as a local employee at the embassy, which was the result of a joint investigation between German and British authorities, according to prosecutors.
He was arrested on suspicion of committing offences connected to “intelligence agent activity,” the British police said in a statement.
According to British spy chiefs, both China and Russia have attempted to steal commercially sensitive data and intellectual property and interfere with politics, while Russian agents are also accused of attacking former Russian spy Sergei Skripal on British soil in 2018 and stealing intellectual property.
Beijing and Moscow say the West is paranoid about plots. Russia and China both deny meddling abroad, stealing technology, carrying out cyberattacks, or sowing discord.
During the Cold War, double agent Kim Philby and others in a ring of British spies known as the “Cambridge Five” passed information to the Soviet Union through the Berlin case.
Emma Thomasson and Paul Carrel reported from Berlin, Ekaterina Golubkova and Anton Kolodyazhnyy from Moscow, and Guy Faulconbridge from London; Kirsti Knolle, Kirsten Donovan and Mark Potter edited.