Germany announced on Wednesday August 11 the arrest of an employee of the United Kingdom embassy in Berlin on suspicion of spying for Russia. A case that risks poisoning the already tense relations on the subject between these two countries and Moscow.
This British national is suspected of having “Forwarded to a representative of the Russian intelligence services” a document “Which he had obtained in the course of his duties at the embassy”, said the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office. It “Received in consideration for the transmission of information a sum in cash of an undetermined amount”, he added in a statement. The prosecution recalled that the arrest was the result of collaboration with the authorities of the United Kingdom.
The respondent was employed by the embassy of his country, in a position which has not been specified for the moment. “He is strongly suspected, at the latest since November 2020, of having been active” for the benefit of Russian intelligence, according to the prosecution, which specifies that “His apartment and his place of work were searched”.
This case is added to a multitude of other cases of which the British and German authorities accuse Russia and its intelligence services. Relations between London and Moscow are at their lowest, especially since the poisoning with Novichok, a neurotoxic product developed for military purposes during the Soviet era, by the ex-double agent Sergei Skripal, which occurred in 2018 in Amesbury in the United Kingdom.
The Kremlin has always denied
The Kremlin has always denied any involvement, but the affair had resulted in a wave of cross-expulsions of diplomats between London and its allies on the one hand, and Moscow on the other, on a scale unprecedented since the end of the Cold War.
In Germany, espionage cases in which the responsibility of the Kremlin is singled out are legion. Recently, German justice announced at the end of June the arrest on its territory of a Russian scientist working in a university and suspected of spying on behalf of Moscow.
But it is above all the attempt to poison the opponent Alexeï Navalny in August 2020, for which Moscow is held responsible by the West, which has contributed the most to poisoning German-Russian relations. In a coma, Mr. Navalny had been urgently transferred to a Berlin hospital and German doctors had diagnosed poisoning with a substance of the Novichok type.
Elsewhere in Europe, in early spring, Italy announced the expulsion of two Russian officials after the red-handed arrest of an Italian navy officer who handed over classified documents to a Russian serviceman. Many Russian diplomats accused of espionage have been expelled in recent months from Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Austria, France and the Czech Republic. Each time, Moscow reacted by denouncing unfounded accusations and “Russophobic”.