British embassy employee arrested in Berlin on suspicion of spying for Russia


A British national has been arrested in Berlin on suspicion of spying for Russia.

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

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Man suspected of selling documents to Russian intelligence

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

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.

The PA news agency understands, however, that the British security services 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.

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

Germany taking case ‘very seriously’

The German Federal Prosecutor’s Office statement said: “On at least one occasion he forwarded documents obtained in the course of his professional activities to a representative of a Russian intelligence service.

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

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”.

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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.

Continuing tensions between the UK and Russia

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.

A version of this article originally appeared on

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