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UK embassy security fears after Briton suspected of spying for Russia arrested in Germany

Written by on 12/08/2021

MPs are calling for a review of private contractors in British embassies after a Briton working at the UK embassy in Berlin was arrested in Germany on suspicion of spying for Russia.

The British national, named as David S, was detained in Potsdam on Tuesday for allegedly selling documents obtained at work to a “representative of a Russian intelligence service”, according to German authorities.

Sky News knows the full name of the suspect but is not disclosing it for legal reasons.

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British man accused of spying is arrested

A UK government spokesman said the 57-year-old had been “contracted to work for the government”.

Sky News understands he was a security guard and was being monitored by MI5.

MPs have expressed security concerns following the arrest of the suspect, who had been the subject of a joint investigation by British and German officials.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, chairman of the all-party parliamentary Russia group, told the Daily Telegraph the British government “must review the security of all contractors at UK embassies as a matter of urgency”.

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He called the incident “one of the most serious security breaches at a UK embassy for many years”.

Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons defence select committee, said reviewing the security of all contractors working at UK embassies would be “standard protocol following such an incident”.

He added that the situation is a “disturbing throwback to the Cold War days”.

Schools minister Nick Gibbs was asked by Sky News if he agreed a security review is needed, and said he was not “able to talk about this issue” because of the ongoing police investigation.

He refused to be drawn on concerns that there has been no security minister for the past month, saying: “This is a matter for the prime minister.

“He makes these appointments, and I’m sure that these things will happen in due course.”

David S is being held under German law on suspicion of engaging in “intelligence agent activity”.

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

The suspect’s home and workplace have been searched.

German foreign minister Heiko Maas said: “Spying on a close ally on German soil is absolutely unacceptable and we are in full solidarity with our British friends.”

He added the German Foreign Ministry is taking the case “very seriously”.

The arrest comes amid ongoing tensions between the UK and Russia.

In June, Russia accused a British warship of illegally entering what the Kremlin says are its territorial waters near Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow from Ukraine.

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

 Sky News

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