EXCLUSIVE: British embassy security spying suspect David Smith, 57, has been arrested in Berlin in a joint operation involving elite ‘spy catchers’ from MI5
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A British embassy security man in Berlin has been arrested on suspicion of spying for Russian intelligence, it has been revealed.
Suspect traitor , David Smith, 57, was seized on Tuesday in a joint operation by British Counter Terror Command and German security operatives.
Elite “spy catchers” from the British security service MI5 played a major role in investigating Smith in the weeks before his arrest.
On Wednesday night the MI5 counter-intelligence operators were assessing whether Smith may have compromised British embassy security.
But the arrest is a major breakthrough for British intelligence against the Kremlin’s ruthless espionage experts who have been targeting British embassy workers worldwide.
Smith was arrested suspected of selling secret documents from the embassy to Russian spies for money and is thought to have come under suspicion from MI5.
Sources said the operation to arrest him was “intelligence-led” and took several weeks.
It is not known which Kremlin agency could have led the recruitment operation on Smith but the feared GRU have been active in Germany – as have Moscow’s foreign service the SVR.
The German Federal Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the arrested man is suspected of selling documents to “a representative of a Russian intelligence service.”
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 are leading the investigation.
The man was arrested in the city of Potsdam, to the south-west of Berlin and is being held under German law on suspicion of engaging in “intelligence agent activity”.
Yesterday searches were carried out at his Potsdam home and at his workplace.
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.”
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.
In a statement, the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office said he is suspected of having worked for a foreign secret service since at least November last year.
The 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.”
He was due to appear before an investigating judge at the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe on Wednesday.
The Metropolitan Police said: “The man was arrested in the Berlin area on suspicion of committing offences relating to being engaged in ‘intelligence agent activity’ (under German law).
“Primacy for the investigation remains with German authorities. Officers from the Counter Terrorism Command continue to liaise with German counterparts as the investigation continues.”
A UK Government spokesman said: “An individual who was contracted to work for the Government was arrested yesterday by the German authorities.
“It would not be appropriate to comment further as there is an ongoing police investigation.”
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.