UK charges guard at Berlin embassy with spying for Russia

LONDON (AP) — A security guard at the British Embassy in Berlin has been extradited from Germany and charged with spying for Russia, U.K. police said Wednesday.

The Metropolitan Police force said David Ballantyne Smith, 57, was sent back to Britain on Wednesday. He faces nine charges under the Official Secrets Act related to “the collection and communication of information useful to the Russian state.”

Smith is due to appear in a London court on Thursday,

Police said the alleged offenses took place between October 2020 and August 2021, when Smith was arrested by German police at his home in Potsdam, southwest of Berlin.

Nick Price, head of special crime and counterterrorism at Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service, said Smith is accused of “seven offenses of collecting information with the intent of sending it to the Russian authorities, one of attempting communication and one of providing information to a person he believed was a member of the Russian authorities.”

During the Cold War, Berlin was often dubbed “the capital of spies” because the city was on the frontlines of the confrontation between the Soviets in the East and the Americans and their western allies in the West.

Espionage activities supposedly abated after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the end of the Cold War, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has once again chilled relations between Moscow and the West and put espionage back in the spotlight.

On Monday, Germany expelled 40 Russian diplomats it accused of being spies.

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