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UK embassy guard in Berlin jailed for spying for Russia

David Ballantyne Smith worked at the UK embassy in Berlin as a security guard and is a keen military historian
David Ballantyne Smith worked at the UK embassy in Berlin as a security guard and is a keen military historian Copyright Metropolitan Police/AP
Copyright Metropolitan Police/AP
By Euronews with AP
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A London court has sentenced David Ballantyne Smith to more than 13 years in prison for putting UK diplomats at “maximum risk” by selling secret information to Russia.

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A London court has sentenced David Ballantyne Smith to more than 13 years in prison for putting UK diplomats at “maximum risk” by selling secret information to Russia.

Smith worked at the British embassy in Berlin as a security guard and was arrested at his home near Berlin in August 2021.

UK intelligence officers crafted a sting operation to catch Smith red-handed. It included undercover operatives posing as a Russian defector and a Russian spy. He was then extradited to the UK in April 2022.

Smith admitted spying but claimed he was driven by depression and a desire to “teach the embassy a lesson” because he felt badly treated at work.

But Judge Mark Wall said Smith was motivated by hatred of the UK and support for Russia's president, Vladimir Putin.

Metropolitan Police/AP
This undated photo issued by the Metropolitan Police shows David Ballantyne Smith taking a video of the CCTV monitors in the British Embassy security kiosk.Metropolitan Police/AP

“He was paid for his treachery, and he was motivated by his antipathy towards this country and intended to damage this country’s interests by acting as he did”, Wall said.

Smith, 58, gave the Russian Embassy in the German capital information about the activities, identities, addresses and phone numbers of British officials, prosecutors said.

He also collected intelligence on the operation and layout of the British Embassy, which prosecutors said would be useful to “an enemy, namely the Russian state.”

The judge said Smith sent the Russians photographs of UK embassy staff with annotated descriptions that put them at “maximum risk”.

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