Italian-navy-officer caught selling secrets documents to Russia
An Italian navy officer has been arrested while being
caught in the act of handing secret documents to
a Russian military official, police say.
The men were stopped by military police on suspicion of
serious crimes relating to espionage and state security.
The Russian, who reportedly worked at the Russian
embassy in Italy, is expected to be expelled.
Russia’s ambassador Sergey Razov has been summoned
to the foreign ministry in Rome. The carabinieri del Ros special
operations group swooped on the men in Rome on Tuesday
evening “during a clandestine meeting between the two,
caught immediately after the transfer of a document by the
Italian officer in exchange for a sum of money”, a police statement said.
The Italian is described as being the captain of a frigate and the
Russian officer’s diplomatic status is currently being assessed.
The Russian embassy confirmed the involvement of a military
attaché official but said any further comment was inappropriate,
adding that it hoped the incident would not affect relations,
Russia’s Ria news agency reported.
Russian decline in relations with Nato
Police moved in following a lengthy operation by Italy’s
Aisi domestic intelligence agency. Italian media are describing
the incident as the most serious since the Cold War.
Relations between Moscow and Nato have deteriorated
since Russia seized and annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014.
The poisoning of leading Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny,
now being held in a Russian penal colony, has also led to a decline.
Last week, Nato member Bulgaria expelled two Russian diplomats
for “intelligence activity incompatible with diplomatic relations”.
Italian fighter planes were involved in a Nato operation to
intercept Russian planes over the Baltic Sea on Monday.