British ex-embassy guard admits spying for Russia in Germany

A British security guard at the UK's embassy in Germany has pleaded guilty to violating the Official Secrets Act after he passed information to Russia, officials said Friday.

British Embassy in Berlin
The Union Jack flies at half mast outside the British Embassy in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

David Ballantyne Smith, 58, was said in court to be motivated by an intense hatred for his homeland.

Smith, who worked at the Berlin embassy for eight years, was also said to have been angered at its flying the Rainbow flag in support of gay people.

He admitted to eight charges last week, but that could not be reported at the time as he was denying a ninth count.

Prosecutors have now said they will not press for a trial on the ninth charge, removing the reporting restrictions.

READ ALSO: Germany considers extradition of Briton who ‘spied for Russia’

Smith lived beyond his means, but €800 in cash was found at his home in Potsdam when he was arrested by German police in August last year, the Old Bailey court heard.

Searches of his electronic devices found the draft of a letter dated May 2020 in which he offered his services to a Russian diplomat.

After that letter, he was in contact with Sergey Chukhurov, the Russian military attache in Berlin, handing over information on various British civil servants.

He collected intelligence on the operation of the embassy and delivered some material that was officially marked “Secret”.

Smith faces a maximum jail term of 14 years for spying. He will be sentenced at a later date.

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Germany smashes human trafficking ring ‘that smuggled hundreds’

German police said they smashed a human trafficking network Wednesday accused of smuggling hundreds of people in "inhumane" conditions, with six suspects arrested in raids across Germany, Romania and Bulgaria.

Germany smashes human trafficking ring 'that smuggled hundreds'

The suspects are believed to have trafficked more than 560 people into Germany, and more than 300 migrants to Romania, federal police said.

The probe into the ring began after accounts were collected from Turkish and Syrian nationals in the border regions of Austria, Czech Republic and Poland.

The migrants were believed to have been brought to Germany via the so-called Balkans route.

They were allegedly forced to remain hidden among cargo in trucks “under inhumane conditions for several days” after being taken from Timisoara in Romania.

Four of the suspects were arrested in Romania by authorities who were searching properties used to house the migrants.

READ ALSO: German police step up fight against Vietnamese human traffickers

One suspect was picked up in Germany and another in Bulgaria.

During the raids, investigators said they secured evidence including three “high-value cars”, several mobile phones and cash.

Close to 200 officers were involved in the operation, including 130 in Germany alone. After a huge influx in 2015-2016, Germany has seen a renewed rise in the number of asylum seekers over the last year.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government last month agreed tougher measures, including new partnerships with the countries of origin of new arrivals to take them back.