Suspected Russian spy arrested at British embassy in Germany

The 57-year-old British national – identified only as David S – was detained on Tuesday

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A British embassy employee in Berlin has been arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia, German prosecutors have said.

The 57-year-old British national – identified only as David S – was detained on Tuesday following a joint investigation by British and German authorities.

The German Federal Prosecutor’s Office said the man is suspected of selling documents obtained during the course of his work to “a representative of a Russian intelligence service”.

The Metropolitan Police said officers from the force’s Counter Terrorism Command – which investigates alleged breaches of the Official Secrets Act – are liaising with their German counterparts who have “primacy” for the investigation.

British security services are understood to have considerable involvement in what is being described as an intelligence-led operation.

The man – who was arrested in the city of Potsdam, to the south-west of Berlin – is being held under German law on suspicion of engaging in “intelligence agent activity”.

Following his detention, searches were carried out at his home and at his workplace.

The German Foreign Ministry said it is taking the case “very seriously” and that any espionage activity against an allied state on German soil is “unacceptable”.

A UK Government spokesman said the suspect had been “contracted to work for the Government”, while German prosecutors said he had been working as a “local employee” at the embassy.

In a statement, the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office said he is suspected of having worked for a foreign secret service since at least November last year.

“On at least one occasion he forwarded documents obtained in the course of his professional activities to a representative of a Russian intelligence service,” the statement said.

“In return for providing information, the accused received cash in a previously unknown amount.”

He is due to appear before an investigating judge at the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe later on Wednesday.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “The man was arrested in the Berlin area on suspicion of committing offences relating to being engaged in ‘intelligence agent activity’ (under German law).

“Primacy for the investigation remains with German authorities. Officers from the Counter Terrorism Command continue to liaise with German counterparts as the investigation continues.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “An individual who was contracted to work for the Government was arrested yesterday by the German authorities.

“It would not be appropriate to comment further as there is an ongoing police investigation.”

The arrest comes at a time of continuing tensions between the UK and Russia which have been building for a number of years.

In June, a Royal Navy warship was buzzed by Russian fighter jets when it sailed through disputed waters off Crimea which was annexed by Moscow from Ukraine.

In 2018, Britain expelled 23 Russian intelligence officers following the poisoning attack on former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, which persuaded allies to eject dozens of others.