A retired Austrian army colonel has been charged with espionage and faces 10 years in prison for having worked for Russia’s military intelligence service for at least 25 years, the prosecutors in Salzburg said on Friday.
The case that was uncovered one year ago has created diplomatic tensions between Vienna and Moscow, which had traditionally tried to maintain constructive relations in spite of EU sanctions against Russia.
The 71-year-old man used radio and satellite communications as well as specialised software to stay in touch with his handler at Russia’s GRU agency, according to the prosecutors.
“Investigations revealed the defendant was integrated into a structured, state-run agent network,’’ the prosecution office said in a statement.
Investigators estimate that the Austrian officer received several 100,000 euros (111,000 dollars) for his services, which he continued to provide after retiring.
Authorities have seized 28,200 euros in cash that the defendant allegedly received when he met his handling officer for the last time in September 2018.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in 2018 shrugged off the allegations and claimed that this was an issue about which we know nothing.
Edited by Halima Sheji/Donald Ugwu
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